Saturday, November 13, 2010

Looking for a Headline

When 14 Taliban attackers hit a NATO base containing thousands of personnel, the effort is clearly not to capture the base:

A group of would-be suicide bombers tried to storm a major NATO base in eastern Afghanistan early Saturday but were repelled before they could enter, officials said.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack — their second assault on the NATO base and an adjoining airport outside Jalalabad city in six months.

Indeed, the assault didn't even get near the base:

The militants attacked the Afghan army checkpoint outside the Jalalabad base shortly after dawn, sparking a gunbattle that lasted at least two hours and involved NATO helicopters firing from overhead, said Sgt. Abdullah Hamdard, a national army commander at the site.

A spokesman for the Nangarhar provincial government, Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, confirmed the attack and said eight assailants were killed — including two who were wearing explosives vests.

We suffered no KIA in the successful defense of the base outpost.

The enemy is just trying to keep their name in the news. It isn't as if the enemy can't mass forces to try and overrun one of our positions. They tried that at Wanat in 2008 (as the official report details). But sending in a large force against a small outpost is tough enough without wasting Taliban lives on an assault on a major base. And the Taliban got their headline:

Militants mounted attacks in Jalalabad and Kunar in the east and in Kunduz in the north, after an attack in the capital Kabul on Friday, apparently demonstrating their continuing strength despite NATO-led forces stating that they have made gains.

The attacks will send a message to NATO leaders meeting in Lisbon next week that the Taliban remain a formidable enemy. European NATO leaders are under particular pressure because popular support for the drawn-out war is sagging.
This should not be cause for hand wringing. The enemy fights--that's why it is a war. Heck, sometimes they will have successes. But when the enemy presents themselves to be killed, that's supposed to shake our morale? God help us if that is the case.

The key is to keep moving forward in seizing and holding enemy dominated areas and snuffing out support for the enemy in those areas. This all takes time, and during that time the enemy will try to defeat us (as at Wanat) or just try to defeat our home front with a media operation (as at the Jalalabad base).