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Old 08-29-2008   #41
milnews.ca
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A piece by Jason Burke in today's Observer;

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/aug/24/afghanistan

Not very cheering, to say the least.
Gee, just in time for this.....
http://uk.reuters.com/article/topNew...11326220080828
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"Afghan forces took over responsibility for the security of the capital, Kabul, on Thursday, in what is largely viewed as a symbolic move.

Although there are no plans for foreign forces to pull out of the city any time soon, the move is also meant to reflect the growing strength of the Afghan army and police force...."
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Old 09-05-2008   #42
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Default What insurgent strategy is the Taliban currently using?

All,

An interesting conversation was started in my workspace, and I'm interested in the opinion of the larger community.

What insurgent strategy is the Taliban using currently? Some argue that they are using classic Maoist Protracted Popular War, others a vague neo-Maoist approach, a subversive approach or others.

I am currently leaning to a modern version of a Maoist insurgent model from my readings, but defer to the community's expertise.

If we understand their strategy, we can perhaps combat them a little more effectively.
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Old 09-05-2008   #43
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From what I've read and seen (granted from a sideline view) I'd say they were using a variation of the Mao strategy, with heavy overtones of Ho and Giap thrown in for good measure. Just my opinion, of course.
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Old 09-05-2008   #44
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Default Might these help?

The Kings of War wbsite (Wars Studies Dept, Kings College, London) also poses a similar question:

It cites this Canadian article, on a recent ambush: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servl.../TPStory/Front and a previous comment (again Canadian): http://kingsofwar.wordpress.com/2008...-out-land-ish/

My own view from this armchair is that the Taliban are relying on wearing down foriegn support for the Afghan government, following the tactics used to end the USSR's support.

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Old 09-05-2008   #45
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Default Lets talk into the echo chamber...

First, I know I'm not supposed to think the enemy is stupid, but in this case they do seem a bit scitzo...

Anyhow, we can parse it out a little....

Political Wing - used to have one, do they still... yes but underdeveloped and largely underground

External support - yes at least in the form of sanctuary in the FATA, but not a nation-state and it doesn't confer legitimacy accept perhaps amongst Pashtuns... so yes but limited

Focus of attacks on AFG and Coalition forces and infrastructure - IO directed at populace

My SWAG is Phase II protracted, with a goal of transitioning to a subversive strategy but not able to position candidates to win / assume seats of government.

I shall return to building pretty slides boss
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Old 09-05-2008   #46
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From what I've read and seen (granted from a sideline view) I'd say they were using a variation of the Mao strategy, with heavy overtones of Ho and Giap thrown in for good measure. Just my opinion, of course.
Wouldn't the religious and tribal aspects of the Taliban make using a communist model problematic? Any similar patterns from the current conflict and the Talibans actions vs the SU and after the SU withdrawal? I would trust those models more personally.
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Old 09-05-2008   #47
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To paraphrase a famous quote, "all insurgency is local." I would argue, therefore, that there is more than one strategy being implemented, depending on the region. I haven't followed Afghanistan closely for a few months now, but it seems to me there is quite a difference between the strategy in the N2K region and down south (Helmand, Kandahar, Oruzgan) to give one example. I won't pretend to know enough about insurgency theory to try to fit each piece into a particular model, so I'll leave that to others to hash out
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Old 09-05-2008   #48
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What insurgent strategy is the Taliban using currently?
I'm not sure how useful it is to try to understand Taliban strategy in terms of other doctrines—it is rather like asking whether US COIN strategy in Afghanistan is "Russian" or "Israeli."

I think that its a safe assumption that 95-99% of Taliban commanders have never read Mao, Giap, Lenin, Trotsky, Guevara, or Carlos Marighella (etc)--or, for that matter Saint Carl or Sun Tzu. Rather, their strategy and tactics arise fundamentally from the interaction of local social and geophysical conditions, weapons availability, experience with the Soviet occupation and civil war, and more recent learning. There is a real risk of miscasting its strengths, weaknesses, foundations, and implications if understood in other terms.

They will have "read" Muhammad—some aspects of the Prophet's rise to power in Arabia have some insurgent overtones in the early period. However, I wouldn't read much into this, given the very, very, very great differences.

Second, there are some key differences in fighting against an external occupier (as seen in Taliban eyes) and seeking to overthrow a rival domestic power, especially around the way in which one casts issues of legitimacy. (Of course, it depends on whether one is looking at CCP strategy in the 1937-45 period, or 1945-49).

Third, the Taliban probably suffers from far less unity of effort and command than did the CCP.
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Old 09-05-2008   #49
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Default Agree with Rex

I have to agree with Rex that this is not a popular uprising in the Maoist sense. My limited experience in the south and west indicated the average "man on the street" did not like the Taliban any better than they liked the coalition. This is a power struggle by a minority group not a mass popular uprising.

I will go one step further and suggest that to try to use any COIN doctrine outside the two major cities may be a mistake or at least a waisted effort. Certainly you must fight remembering that the ultimate goal is a stable pro-coalition government in place (i.e. don't randomly kill civilians, don't use airpower or artillery when you can do the same job with a more precision tools, don't appear to the locals that your life is worth any more than theirs is). We can certainly loose the war that way but I don't think that you will defeat the Taliban through attempts to win the hearts and minds of the average villager with a well or a road. I think you are going to have to defeat them by crushing, overwhelming force directed against the Taliban leadership.
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Old 09-06-2008   #50
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In the sense that the Taleban (at least in certain areas of the country, first in parts of the South, and now parts of the East as well) like to build up over time from small guerrilla bands to pseudo-conventional light infantry companies and battalions, then I agree with Cavguy and Steve that they are following a hybrid Maoist/Vietnamese pattern, though in the manner in which they gain and maintain local support, they seem to follow more along the lines of the VC (I use these terms only in a loose sense). For some reason, the Taleban sometimes like to go big when they have amassed the means to do so. Strategically and operationally, of course, they are all about winning the Information War; but tactically, they like to have the capability (though employing that capability somewhat judiciously) to go toe-to-toe, mano-a-mano with their enemy.

Up to a point; if they are restricting themselves to company-level attacks, and no higher, they may well win this war by continuing to avoid physical destruction while still being able to disperse easily enough to control the population while concentrating quickly enough to inflict the death of a thousand paper cuts on the will of NATO countries. I think they may have learned at Second Panjwai in 2006 that operating much above company-level would be too costly and lead to repeated setbacks. Going no higher than company-level lets them elude detection and destruction while still marshalling enough fighting power to do real damage, politically as well as tactically, at their chosen time and place. And to continue growing in strength.

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Old 09-06-2008   #51
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Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
I have to agree with Rex that this is not a popular uprising in the Maoist sense. My limited experience in the south and west indicated the average "man on the street" did not like the Taliban any better than they liked the coalition. This is a power struggle by a minority group not a mass popular uprising.

I will go one step further and suggest that to try to use any COIN doctrine outside the two major cities may be a mistake or at least a waisted effort. Certainly you must fight remembering that the ultimate goal is a stable pro-coalition government in place (i.e. don't randomly kill civilians, don't use airpower or artillery when you can do the same job with a more precision tools, don't appear to the locals that your life is worth any more than theirs is). We can certainly loose the war that way but I don't think that you will defeat the Taliban through attempts to win the hearts and minds of the average villager with a well or a road. I think you are going to have to defeat them by crushing, overwhelming force directed against the Taliban leadership.
I would have to disagree almost 100%. What leadership are you going to strike at? Taliban is fueled by out-of-power tribes, not by a charasmatic leadership with over-arching goals AFAIK. COIN may be exactly the way to beat them since while unpopular, they are still funded by "taxing" the countryside. Create security for the countryside, and you sap their support. Find a way to get the disaffected tribes to "buy in" the Kazari goverment and you sap there manpower. The question then is, how the heck do you do that? Wish I had an idea, but I do not.
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Old 09-06-2008   #52
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Default better change my tone

Curmudgeon, I do agree with your assesment and observations, just not with your stated course of action. Hope that helps clarify.
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Old 09-06-2008   #53
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Default I can't be right all the time

No problem. I am not emotionally wedded to the idea. I do think that COIN has become the panacea for all conflicts and while I am a staunch advocate of it in the right place, I don't think rural Afghanistan is the right place.

You are probably right that there is no charismatic leader ... no Hitler or Stalin to attack, but I don’t see the people of Afghanistan as the center of gravity in the fight in the same way it was in Iraq. I see them more like the townspeople in "The Magnificent Seven". They did not support the bandits (Taliban), they would be happy to see them gone. They live with the Taliban to to survive, not because they believe in the revolution. So if you dedicate your assets fighting the revolution that is not happening, you are not fighting the right war.

As far as the security issue you are right, but it is much more difficult in Afghanistan as the towns are smaller and more remote. Here is where I do see the advantage of paved roads. They allow response in a much quicker and safer manner. Again, the distinction with Iraq must be made. There is no oil revenue. There is no funding source that is going to allow a police station in every town. There is not a tax base and once the donor countires stop paying there will be no way to keep the local tribes on your side.

Not sure there is a military solution to the problems of Afghanistan.
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Old 09-06-2008   #54
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Thumbs up Have to go with you on this one

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
No problem. I am not emotionally wedded to the idea. I do think that COIN has become the panacea for all conflicts and while I am a staunch advocate of it in the right place, I don't think rural Afghanistan is the right place.

You are probably right that there is no charismatic leader ... no Hitler or Stalin to attack, but I don’t see the people of Afghanistan as the center of gravity in the fight in the same way it was in Iraq. I see them more like the townspeople in "The Magnificent Seven". They did not support the bandits (Taliban), they would be happy to see them gone. They live with the Taliban to to survive, not becuase they believe in the revolution. So if you dedicate your assets fighting the revolution that is not happening, you are not fighting the right war.

As far as the security issue you are right, but it is much more difficult in Afghanistan as the towns are smaller and more remote. Here is where I do see the advantage of paved roads. They allow response in a much quicker and safer manner. Again, the distinction with Iraq must be made. There is no oil revenue. There is no funding source that is going to allow a police station in every town. There is not a tax base and once the donor countires stop paying there will be no way to keep the local tribes on your side.

Not sure there is a military solution to the problems of Afghanistan.
Some COIN practices from recent experience will work very well in certain more concentrated areas, more out-lying areas jab and move jab and move while developing "understandings with local leaders and make them and us accountable for those agreements (long and short offer them alternatives (when they tire of the Taleb's again they'll come to you), do whatever possible to work with the Pakistanis on border concentrations hard and relentlessly.

Lot's of time, whole lots of money, little bit of luck and a whole lot of sweat.
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Old 09-06-2008   #55
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What insurgent strategy is the Taliban using currently? Some argue that they are using classic Maoist Protracted Popular War, others a vague neo-Maoist approach, a subversive approach or others.

I am currently leaning to a modern version of a Maoist insurgent model from my readings, but defer to the community's expertise.

If we understand their strategy, we can perhaps combat them a little more effectively.
Probably not Maoist. Back in the 1990's Ahmad Shah Massoud met with an Australian Journalist who had stuided Mao's writings in China in the 1970's.

(I know the guy and he knows more about Maoist insurgency philosophy than anyone I have ever met.)

He wanted to use the Maoist model against the Taliban. It failed early on because basically, Confucian constructs do not work in Afghan culture.

Why? I really couldn't tell you but I know a man that can.
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Old 09-07-2008   #56
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I wonder the right question is being asked. Perhaps we should be asking what insurgent strategy the ISI is currently using?

If the ISI is trying to run the same game on us they ran on the Russians, I don't think there is an ultimate goal beyond Afghanistan in chaos and most any strategy will do.
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Old 09-07-2008   #57
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I wonder the right question is being asked. Perhaps we should be asking what insurgent strategy the ISI is currently using?

If the ISI is trying to run the same game on us they ran on the Russians, I don't think there is an ultimate goal beyond Afghanistan in chaos and most any strategy will do.
I find myself nodding my head in agreement. But what are our options w/ Pak? Any funding we pull out the Chinese will be more then happy to replace. Supporting India would do little to help us in A-stan, and other neighbours are either outright hostile (Iran) or have such limited infrastructure as to be of limited assistance. Not being defeatist, just admitting I have no idea what could be done. I would love to hear ideas on this.
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Old 09-08-2008   #58
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Ultimately, the Pakistanis will have to realize the wishes of the ISI are probably not to the long term benefit of the country. They are the ones who will have to reign them in, or reign the military in, or both. Apparently, much of what drives them is the perceived need to confront India, Kashmir, revenge for past defeats etc; and a weak Afghanistan is a flank they won't have to worry about. So somehow, there has to be a change in that attitude. How we can effect that, I haven't a clue.

It has to be done somehow though because if the de-facto sanctuary that exists in Pakistan isn't removed, I don't see how we can win in Afghanistan.
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Old 09-08-2008   #59
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Default It's a mess!

Reigning in the Pakistani military and or the Pakistani ISI? Who is going to do this?

IMHO Pakistan's politicians invariably allow the military to decide national security policy - for all manner of reasons and history. The ISI has long followed a policy in line with the military's direction. I'm not immersed in what has happened there recently, but recall it was the decision of a senior prosecutor or judge to call for all ISI's prisoners to be released that prompted Musharraf's declaration of an emergency (on another thread at the time).

The policies followed by the USA and the UK have avoided confronting this question - who decides what the soldiers / spies do? Hence the "stop, go" policies of Musharraf, so well described in the NYT story: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/07/ma...ll&oref=slogin

In some respects Afghanistan is a "sideshow" to Pakistan.

I cannot see the Pakistani military changing to our benefit their policy stance; so what can the Pakistani politicians do? Clearly mobilising popular support is easier on "softer" issues and history indicates the public know their politicians are weak - often leading to military intervention.

The solution escapes me.

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Old 09-08-2008   #60
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Question The answer would unfortunately be

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Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post

In some respects Afghanistan is a "sideshow" to Pakistan.

I cannot see the Pakistani military changing to our benefit their policy stance; so what can the Pakistani politicians do? Clearly mobilising popular support is easier on "softer" issues and history indicates the public know their politicians are weak - often leading to military intervention.

The solution escapes me.

davidbfpo
beyond anyone considering it would seem to come down to making the border region the Pak military's problem rather than diversion. That however may be more readily accomplished by our common enemy there long before we figure out how to accomplish that?

If it all comes down to priorities how do you encourage another countries priorities to come more in line with your own?
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