May 18, 2009: Here's a small Afghanistan battle, showing the tactics typical of those used on both sides. On May 12th, in southern Herat province, an Afghan army convoy was ambushed by Taliban forces, using machine-guns and RPGs. The troops in the convoy fired back and called for backup. The nearest quick-reaction force was an Afghan army unit, and they got hit by Taliban who had taken over a village on the other side of the river, from the road the quick reaction force would have to use to reach the trapped convoy. The quick reaction force called for air support, but the warplanes scanned the area with their targeting pods and reported that the Taliban had collected most of the local civilians and were holding them at gunpoint, as human shields.
The Afghan commandos of the quick reaction force then crossed the river and forced the Taliban out of the village, and away from their human shields. The villagers, once free of their captors, told the Afghan troops where the Taliban had set up more fighting positions, and the Afghan soldiers soon chased the Taliban away. Meanwhile, other Afghan and U.S. troops of the Quick Reaction force went ahead to where the supply convoy was still pinned down. The Afghans, and a team of U.S. Special Forces troops, outmaneuvered the ambush force, killed five of the Taliban, and captured six of those they had wounded. Several other Taliban got away.
As the supply went on, they hit two roadside bombs. One vehicle was destroyed, But no one was hurt. Throughout the entire action, no troops (American or Afghan) or civilians were killed. It was the training and leadership of the Afghan troops, and the use of air power (for reconnaissance, not smart bombs) that played a major role in the success of the operation. The American Special Forces troops have been advising and training the Afghan soldiers and, in this case, fighting alongside them.
The Taliban are still basically tribal warriors. In a battle, even those with good shooting skills, will fire wildly. The Taliban fighters are not trained to carry out a lot of moves, and are easily panicked. The Pushtun tribesmen of this part of the world, have a tradition of fleeing a lost battle, and not fighting to the past man. Thus if you can make the Taliban think they are about to be surrounded by ground troops, they will flee. U.S. and Afghan forces not only have better training and leadership, but also know Taliban tactics, and how best to exploit them.