Monday, June 22, 2015

Television Operations

The Taliban assaulted Afghanistan's parliament and took over a couple district capitals. These should be fleeting television operations designed to look ominous unless we panic.

If corrupt or disloyal security forces let these attackers through, that is a problem that has to be corrected, but this was a terror attack that is far more difficult to prevent and not a military attack that was designed to hold ground:

A Taliban suicide bomber and six gunmen attacked the Afghan parliament on Monday as lawmakers met to consider a new defense minister, and another district in the volatile north fell to the militants as they intensified a summer offensive.

All the attackers were killed while at least 19 Afghans were wounded. No members of parliament were hurt.

Mind you, if too many of these terror attacks take place, the morale of Afghan security forces can go wobbly, as Iraqi performance at Mosul and Ramadi show. So I don't dismiss this. But this is not a sign of collapse if we work the problem.

In addition, the Taliban rolled into another district capital:

A district in the northern province of Kunduz fell to the Taliban on Monday, the second such loss in two days. Officials said the militants were able to take over when urgently needed reinforcements failed to arrive.

The Taliban captured Dasht-e-Archi district a day after hundreds of militants fought their way to the center of the adjacent district of Chardara.

Afghanistan has nearly 400 district capitals. It is common for a band of enemy to roll into one of these small government centers and hold them until security forces chase them out, as the article says the Afghan security forces are preparing to do.

You can't heavily defend every location, and for most, you have to have a small garrison that can only hold on until reinforcements arrive. Reinforcements did not arrive. And the enemy can rule out our air power intervening. So they can mass--also made more possible by the absence of our air power--and take a small district capital.

The recapture will not get the attention that the loss gets. Mission accomplished.

These aren't major setbacks since these district capitals are more like our county seats of government. How many of our county capitals could stop even a dozen heavily armed men from seizing the building?

The Taliban will hold the places until it looks like a counter-attack is imminent and they are likely to run. Unless they try to fight and hold these targets, this is another television operation designed to make them look stronger.

UPDATE: Afghan forces have regained one district capital:

On the front lines just outside Kunduz city in the north, Afghan army and police drove the Taliban back from Chardara district, which the insurgents had captured two days before, provincial police chief Abdul Saboor Nasrati said.

The fall of a provincial capital would be a much bigger deal--even if temporary.