Afghanistan: Taliban Change Tactics

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April 17, 2007: The Taliban appear to be changing tactics, switching to kidnapping and suicide bombing. For over a year, they have been shut down whenever they sent large forces (over fifty men) out. NATO aircraft, and better trained troops, tended to catch the large Taliban groups and destroy them. Even the Afghan army and police were able to defeat large groups of Taliban. But the large groups were needed to terrorize unfriendly villagers to support the Taliban. This is how the Taliban ruled the country in the late 1990s. Despite the fact that it didn't work then, the Taliban are traditionalists and insisted on returning to the past. Now, realizing that they have a lot of support in the home countries of the foreign troops in Afghanistan, they are trying to mobilize that support, in order to get the foreign troops withdrawn. This would enable the Taliban to fight on more effectively. By allying themselves with drug gangs, the Taliban have a source of income, and can keep hiring gunmen to stir up trouble in the south. "Another Colombia" is what the Taliban is looking for. But for now, they have to survive, so kidnapping foreigners and using suicide bombers against foreign troops seems a more effective strategy. Let the headline hungry foreign media work their magic, and all will be well, or at least less bad.

April 15, 2007: In the last two years, Afghan army conducted 10,224 operations. These resulted in 2,822 hostile individuals being killed and another 1,324 arrested. Government forces lost 331 soldiers killed and 861 wounded. The army currently has 46,000 troops, although two years ago the force was about 25 percent smaller. April 13, 2007: In the last week, the Taliban have lost nearly a hundred fighters, about four times as many as the security forces and their foreign allies. The Taliban have been most successful at inflicting casualties using suicide bombers. But these tactics also cause a lot of civilian casualties, which makes the Taliban more unpopular in general.

April 12, 2007: NATO is trying to recruit 3,400 trainers for Afghan service, and is finding a shortage of volunteers. The media makes Afghanistan sound like a lawless hell-on-earth, so qualified trainers for the military and police are reluctant to come forward.

 

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