Leadership: The Taliban Ducks and Decentralizes

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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 worthy stuff.

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.

 


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