Afghanistan: Taliban Embrace Civilians To Survive

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July 5, 2007: Afghan police rescued a German civilians who had been kidnapped and held for ransom.

July 4, 2007: In the south, a roadside bomb hit a Canadian armored truck, killing six Canadian soldiers and their Afghan translator. The Canadians were riding in a RG-31 Nyala patrol vehicle, which is explosion resistant, but not invincible. Elsewhere, a suicide bomber killed five policemen at a checkpoint, and wounded eleven others. The Taliban have been increasing their attacks on real, or suspected "spies" (Afghans who have been tipping off the police about Taliban activities.) Translators working for NATO and American forces have also been targeted. Either the men themselves are killed, or family members are kidnapped, forcing the translator to quit, or spy for the Taliban.

July 3, 2007: The Afghan army completed its first independent operation. The force consisted of 800 Afghan soldiers, 200 police and 400 U.S. troops. An Afghan general was in overall command. In some Afghan units, the only American troops present were the U.S. Air Force ground controllers, needed to call in air strikes. The Afghan troops prefer to use smart bombs, once they have cornered a Taliban force. Sometimes the Taliban will surrender, but most of the time they won't. The Afghan army has 34,000 troops on active duty, and another 10,000 in training. This is the most professional army Afghanistan has ever had, thanks to NATO trainers who have put the recruits through Western style training. But it has taken longer to develop effective Afghan NCOs and officers. It's the shortage of professional leadership that limits how many independent operations the Afghans can carry out. But now, hundreds of Afghan NCOs and officers have at least five years experience, and are able to lead units efficiently.

July 2, 2007: Seven policemen were killed by a roadside bomb outside Kandahar. In eastern Afghanistan, a force of NATO and Afghan troops killed fifty Taliban hiding out in caves near Tora Bora.

June 30, 2007: In the south, a large group of Taliban were cornered in a village. Dozens of civilians were forced to stay in the buildings the Taliban were firing from. Smart bombs were used to kill most of the Taliban (about 70) and 45 of the civilians they were using as human shields. There have been cases where civilians resisted being used as shields, and were killed by the Taliban. This tactic is meant to terrorize civilians into supporting the Taliban, as well as causing the NATO troops to hesitate attacking the Taliban. In theory, NATO troops could call for reinforcements, and lay siege to the Taliban in the village. But this would give the Taliban the opportunity to call in reinforcements, and snipe at the NATO troops, and ambush any troops or supplies coming in by road. Some Taliban could also escape at night. A large part of the NATO advantage is superior mobility. Staying in one place too long, trying to starve the Taliban out, would result in more NATO casualties. This favors the Taliban, who believe that if enough NATO soldiers are killed, politicians back home will lose enthusiasm for fighting the Taliban and withdraw. Since the Taliban cannot beat the NATO troops on the battlefield, they are depending on Western media ignorance of battlefield tactics, and enthusiasm for stories of dead civilians, to force NATO troops to be withdrawn. Incidents where the Taliban terrorize or murder civilians gets much less attention than do situations where the Taliban use civilians as human shields. The Taliban are religious fanatics who believe God is on their side and that, long term, they will win. The Taliban ignore the fact that, historically, the religious zealots lose. Taliban leaders tend to ignore inconvenient past events and concentrated on the miracles they expect to serve them in the present.

June 29, 2007: In eastern Afghanistan, four Taliban were killed and fifteen captured. Weapons, explosives and half a ton of opium were also seized.

 

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