The news keeps on coming in from Afghanistan. From all of the AP Reports it seems as if the Taliban are standing their ground in the Argandab District and looking for a fight. (Link to NY Times Article) But there is a number of questions that remain in my mind that just do not add up. The first being the idea of the Taliban massing large amounts of insurgent fighters in one location is a dream come true. It makes the job easier to find them, to fix them in one location, and then to utilize the overwhelming firepower of the coalition forces against them. Ive only seen insurgents come together a few times, and whenever they did, it was under false pretense, or part of a larger plan that did not materialize until later. I am quite honestly perplexed by this move.
Argandab District does give them many places to hide amongst the grape vines and pomegranate groves but it is a double edged sword. If they destroy these farm lands through their actions then they take away a food source for themselves, they take away food and income for the farmers, and they turn the people against them. Not that the Taliban have ever really cared about the common people in Afghanistan; but now it is imperative for them to have even a small amount of tacit support from some people so they can hide and receive supplies. If they fight there, I do not think they would even keep that. The devastation that would be imposed by their actions has the potential to be catastrophic on these farmers, and they would remember it.
The fact also that the Afghan Army, Police, and the US and other Coalition Forces conducted a five hour patrol through part of the district and did not make any contact with Taliban forces is also uncharacteristic. Many of the Taliban operate under the Pashtun Code that in part says that not to attack an enemy if given the opportunity means losing face and honor amongst your men. I would not use this as evidence to support a hypothesis but it is a very peculiar point that I would want more information on. The two major questions that immediately spring to my mind are, 1. are the Taliban actually there? 2. could these be foreign fighters that have come in from Pakistan that do not follow this code?
The next few days should provide answers to many of these questions, and I will be watching it closely and keeping you informed in addition to my regular posts, but I am waiting to see on this one as much as you. The one take-away at this point that I can say without any reservation is that Afghanistan needs more troops committed to it. I was quite pleased to see the UK stepping up and committing more troops, I don't think we have any better ally and friend then Great Britain. Ive worked with many of their soldiers to include the Royal Marine Commandos and I can not say enough about them. But Afghanistan must see a surge similar to the one in Iraq, and then we must sustain our operations there. To do anything less would be slighting our allies and our friends in both NATO and Afghanistan.
God Bless America
Photo is from the article, and taken by Ahmad Masood with Reuters.
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