Friday, April 25, 2008

Those "Resurgent" Taliban

I'm openly skeptical about those cries that the resurgent Taliban are just about to wax our Occidental butts up in the mountains. And it isn't just because this charge is made on a quarterly basis since about October 2001.

It seems that two years of surging into the valleys and getting whacked for their troubles has made the recruiting pool a little less enthusiastic about round three. So the Taliban are changing their operations:

This year's Taliban "Spring Offensive" has gotten off to a slow start. This is largely because Taliban recruiting efforts have not produced as many recruits as last year. Most Pushtun tribesmen many be illiterate, but they can count. And over the Winter they counted far fewer of their friends who had joined the Taliban last year. The smart bombs and UAVs, plus better trained Afghan troops, has made it very difficult for groups of armed Taliban to survive. As a result (and to improve recruiting), tactics have changed this year. The Taliban are to operate in smaller (5-10 men), and more numerous groups. Troops (especially foreign ones) are to be avoided. No cell phones or radios either.

The problem with the new tactics is that the smaller groups of Taliban are not strong enough to intimidate rural villages and tribes. More rural Afghans can grab their rifles and drive away the Taliban. The Taliban have orders to concentrate on terrorist attacks. But these kill mostly civilians, and anger the tribes.

Like I said before, it looks an awful lot like the Taliban are getting beaten.

And the new tactics are just a reaction to being atomized, which will make it easier for locals to hold off the next offensive when it comes into town in a squad-sized element rather than a company-size force.