In Afghanistan the Taliban are heading for a major defeat and it has little to do with their recent admission that their leader, Mullah Omar, had died in 2013 while in a Pakistani hospital. ...
The Taliban leaders told their troops they would triumph by 2015 as the last foreign combat forces left. That didn’t happen. In 2014 the Taliban lost about 6,000 men, up from 2,700 in 2014. But during the first half of 2015 the Taliban lost as many men as all of 2014. Then came news that Mullah Omar, the supreme Taliban leaders (since the mid-1990s), died in 2013. ... But even if Omar is not dead the reports of his demise is demoralizing to his followers in Afghanistan. That, plus the years of battlefield defeats and growing number of Pushtun tribes turning against the Taliban has resulted in a major morale problem for the Taliban.
What the Afghans need is our air support and other logistics support. We quietly reversed our decision to halt air support. We need to get Afghanistan that logistics support, too.
But the battlefield trends are good despite recent near-panic about Afghanistan security force casualties.
And despite this enemy success:
A wave of attacks on Afghan army, police and U.S. special forces in Kabul on Friday killed at least 50 people and wounded hundreds, dimming hopes that the Taliban might be weakened by a leadership struggle after their longtime leader's death.
The bloodshed began with a truck bomb that exploded in a heavily populated district of the capital and ended with an hours-long battle at a base used by U.S. special forces. It became the deadliest day in Kabul for years.
But remember that the "wave" of attacks was two: one on a police academy and one on a military base. This was a defeat for the good guys. But let's not elevate it.
The enemy has worse problems. We shouldn't save them from defeat. Or exaggerate their successes.
UPDATE: This article starts with praise for the Afghan forces:
Amid the rubble and chaos is also the silver-lining claim that Afghanistan’s US- and NATO-trained security forces are demonstrating a heightened ability to respond to such attacks and mitigate their impact.
It also cites someone to say that the Afghan forces aren't really holding their own. But that "expert" is the CATO Institute's Ted Galen Carpenter--who never saw an enemy that he didn't think we needed to retreat from--so my instinct is to go with the "we're doing okay" school.
Strategypage has more:
The Taliban have been particularly active lately with suicide bomb attacks. Less frequent are attacks meant to take control of territory. This is a sign of frustration, and defeat. The Taliban no longer have the numbers (of gunmen) and cohesion (many factions want to make peace) to fight for territory. Moreover the Taliban found that the post-NATO departure (in 2014) Afghan security forces were more formidable than predicted. ...
The Taliban leaders told their troops they would triumph by 2015 as the last foreign combat forces left. That didn’t happen. In 2014 the Taliban lost about 6,000 men, up from 2,700 in 2014 [sic; I assume 2013]. But during the first half of 2015 the Taliban lost as many men as all of 2014. Then came news that Mullah Omar, the supreme Taliban leaders (since the mid-1990s), had died in 2013. This tore the Afghan Taliban apart as long-held suspicions became reality.
We can win this. Which is why I was quite happy that President Obama quietly reversed himself to provide air support to Afghan forces and slow the pace of withdrawal this year.
Now all we need is an end to the artificial deadline about leaving next year. That didn't work in Iraq and we should be prepared to defend our gains with a small level of support to the Afghan forces who are fighting and dying to kill our common enemy.
UPDATE: Taliban forces took a district capital and drove Afghan forces from some positions in Helmand province:
The Afghan Taliban raised its white banner over military outposts after overrunning the district of Now Zad in Helmand province two weeks ago. Afghan officials have confirmed that Now Zad is under Taliban control.
While I'm open to the idea that this is significant, district capitals are like our county seats of government. And the Taliban like to mass forces against these small places to carry out TV operations to take them.
But they are always driven out again when Afghan security forces gather up forces to move back in.