Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The Taliban Relocate

The only thing surprising is that anyone should be surprised. Afghan defence officials have told McClatchey Newspapers that the recent American offensive in Helmand province has succeeded - in moving the Taliban to relocate. Like all good little insurgents they've simply moved, this time to the east and the north.

Why should this outcome have been so obvious? Well, what would have been the alternative? The only option the Taliban had was to stand and fight with WWII vintage assault rifles and rocket propelled grenades against American strike fighters, attack helicopters, drones, artillery and tanks. That really doesn't sound too enticing, does it? Especially not when you can hand the Americans a tactical defeat by simply walking away.

It will be interesting to see how long the Americans stick to their promise to "hold" Helmand province. It takes a lot of people to hold turf in an insurgency, a lot of people that neither NATO nor the United States have in Afghanistan. Even with the additional 17,000 troops sent by Obama, they're left with a small force for the job they've been given.

I'm sure the Taliban would be quite content if the Americans want to tie down their new force in static positions in Helmand. Keep in mind that the Taliban's long game is to simply outwait the Westerners.

No comments: