Thursday, April 19, 2007

Next Year in Kabul

The Taliban spring offensive isn't quite living up to the press reports of the Taliban and those here who have been predicting since about March 2003 or so that our Iraq distraction will lead to imminent disaster in Afghanistan.

Brigadier General Votel:

With respect to the first part of your question, the spring offensive, I'm not sure I would classify it as an offensive. We have been more offensive than I think they have in our posturing and in our ability to dominate areas on the battlefield.

And so as a result of that, I think we've seen a decrease in activities along the border. And our ability to be in more places, along with our Afghan national security force partners, has enabled us to address a broader area across Regional Command East.

So I would not necessarily characterize it as any kind of offensive. We certainly haven't seen it manifest itself to any great degree.

That, of course, is not to say there haven't been attacks. There have. We continue to be probed on a regular basis. We continue to see attacks in the interior. But we have not seen what I would describe as a spring offensive by the Taliban.

Not that there aren't Taliban running about. But this is fairly typical of what happens:

"After manoeuvring to gain contact with the enemy force, US special forces requested coalition air support to engage the Taliban fighters as they were attempting to establish ambush positions," the statement said.

"Approximately 24 Taliban fighters were killed and four vehicles destroyed during the prolonged seven-hour battle," it added.

Two friendlies were wounded .

I wrote not long ago that I didn't think the Taliban would manage to scrape up a decent offensive this year.

UPDATE: A Pentagon briefing reinforces this idea:

While the threat of the Taliban spring offensive still exists, to date we have not seen enemy operations on the scale that they have predicted. In fact, our assessment is that the increase in the number of contacts we are seeing is being driven by the presence and activity of ISAF and Afghan forces, not by the Taliban.

We've a long way to victory or even the first winter snows, but the enemy is not surging in Afghanistan. But perhaps they are simply distracted by their efforts to win in Iraq.