August 13, 2007:
The Taliban is changing its
leadership arrangements, after losing two top military commanders in the last
few months. Rather than trying to reconstitute the top command, the Taliban
have told local commanders to run their own show, without any orders from a
central command. There is still a central Taliban leadership, but it is mainly
a political one. Any centralized resources (cash, weapons) will be allocated to
whichever of the local groups (one or two per province) appear to have the best prospects of success.
The senior Taliban political leadership will set overall goals, but not provide
any military direction on how to carry out that strategy. The Taliban political
leadership knows that they are major targets for NATO and American
counter-terror operations, and are spending most of their efforts in staying
alive. Even the Taliban publicity operation has been decentralized.
There are now four official Taliban spokesmen, all
using the same name. That's mainly to confuse the counter-terror forces chasing
them. The mass media don't care who briefs them, as long as it's headline
The al Qaeda leadership is also decentralizing in
Pakistan. The recent spate of stories about U.S. forces moving into Pakistan
has caused about two dozen known al Qaeda locations (usually rural villages
where al Qaeda personnel were known to hang out) to be abandoned by the
terrorists. Both the Taliban and al Qaeda are expecting someone to come after
them, and are hunkering down and dispersing, hoping to minimize the damage.