February 15, 2010:
As NATO and Afghan forces attacked the southern Afghanistan town of Marjah, they discovered that the Taliban understood there was no expectation of winning a conventional victory. Instead the Islamic radicals were going for an Information War win. This was anticipated, and short circuited by the NATO strategy of giving the population plenty of time to get out. That was followed by a surprise (2 AM) helicopter assault in the center of the town. Troops quickly occupied key buildings, and the Taliban found that their defense of the town had been wrecked. That wasn't the only damage. Evidence was found, and publicized, that the Taliban had burned some Korans, apparently in preparation of a photo op where the "desecration" would be broadcast to the Moslem world. But in the case, the Taliban were caught holding the match.
Now, most of the 15,000 NATO/Afghan forces are slowly working their way through the mines and roadside bombs the Taliban set up around and inside the town. The few hundred diehard (and apparently not terribly bright) Taliban left behind to die for the cause, are confused, with soldiers coming at them from outside, while already inside the town. But many of the Taliban inside Marjah have some training as snipers, and are making a nuisance of themselves.
While the Taliban has scored many Information War victories, Marjah is not shaping up as another of them. But the use of Information War tactics makes it much harder for the American and NATO troops, who operate under very restrictive ROE (Rules of Engagement.) The Taliban know the ROE, and exploit it as much as possible. For example, U.S. troops cannot fire on anyone unless first fired on, or shown unmistakable "hostile intent." Lawyers and journalists are standing by to crucify any foreign soldier who appears to have killed an Afghan civilian. Thus U.S. troops are threatened from all sides. The paper bullets from the media may not kill you, but they can sure make life miserable long after the fighting is over.