Thursday, September 08, 2016

Don't Let the Enemy Mass Effort!

This kind of enemy freedom of action has got to stop if we want to win in Afghanistan:

In the southeast (Paktia province, near the Pakistan border) American UAVs armed with missiles made two separate attacks on a Taliban base and a Taliban convoy, killing over 120 of the Islamic terrorists. Local police followed up on the attacks to collect intelligence and assess the damage. Afghan air strikes were also used to help defeat a major Taliban offensive involving over a thousand gunmen. The attacks were repulsed but over 30 soldiers and police died. The Taliban losses were believed to be nearly ten times that, mainly because of air and artillery support. Afghans later found four known Haqqani Network leaders among the dead. [emphasis added]

The ability of the Taliban to mass a thousand troops is a major problem when so many of the defenders are in platoon or company garrisons. We need more air power in Afghanistan to provide persistent surveillance and prompt and effective air strikes to make the Taliban fear to mass troops like that.

Mind you, this doesn't likely mean that the Taliban had two battalions of light infantry in one spot, but that kind of effort can overwhelm small outposts that don't get fire support and reinforcements quickly.

I thought we were going to fix that, as I wrote earlier in the year.

Because this was a major component of our Iraq victory, where we sent enemy forces down the escalation ladder by atomizing them. Enemies there rarely fought in more than platoon strength once we got to work on them in earnest.

We need more air power in Afghanistan for surveillance and strike (and associated search and rescue forces, of course).

If the Taliban are afraid to mass in more than squad or platoon strength because it invites Mr. JDAM to their party, the Taliban will lose the war.

UPDATE: Things are looking hairy in this region made more dangerous by Taliban and well-funded drug gang allies of the Taliban:

U.S. warplanes unleashed three strikes on Friday in Afghanistan's province of Uruzgan, where Afghan security forces remained surrounded by Taliban fighters a day after having fought back a concerted push by the militants.

The Taliban attack, in one of the country's top opium-producing areas, has exposed how thinly stretched Afghan security forces have become as they try to contain Islamist insurgents in other areas of the country.

Taliban insurgents on Thursday battled their way to within a few hundred meters (yards) of key government buildings in Tarin Kot, a city of about 70,000 and capital of the south-central province, while many local leaders fled to a nearby airport.

On the bright side, the Taliban penetration into the city was reversed.

But being isolated in the city while the Taliban dominate the surrounding countryside is bad for Afghan prospects if this becomes the new status quo.

Hopefully we are helping the Afghans gather mobile forces to counter-attack.