2008: In Afghanistan, the Taliban are
trying out a lot of new tactics, trying to find something that works. The
recent prison break in Kandahar worked, but partly because the government had
been sloppy, and had ignored NATO warnings, over a year ago, about security
vulnerabilities in that jail. Two suicide bombers and a few dozen gunmen got
nearly a thousand prisoners out of the jail. There's also suspicion that there
was some inside help. That, alas, is quite common in Afghanistan.
elsewhere, the new Taliban ideas have been failures. Shortly after the jail
break incident, nearly 500 Taliban rode into a dozen villages south of
Kandahar, took control of ten villages, and basically challenged the government
to do something about it. The government, and some NATO troops quickly did so,
and the Taliban troops were promptly driven out, with about half of them being
killed, wounded or captured.
Taliban have brought over 10,000 gunmen into the country from Pakistan. They
have learned to bring most of these guys in as civilians, because the millions
of dollars the Taliban are earning by "taxing" the drug gangs, enables them to
buy weapons in Afghanistan for their Pakistani recruits. Most of these kids, and a lot of them are
teenagers, recruited from religious schools, are pretty green. They have been
studying the Koran for the last year or so, not how to move around the hills
and fire a weapon. But these youngsters do have religion, and that makes it
easy to use them as enforcers for the lifestyle rules the Taliban wants to
impose. That means all women are covered up when outdoors, do not work outside
the home, and don't go to school. For the men, no barbers, no music, no videos,
no booze, no sex before marriage, not much fun at all. Many of these kids only
use their guns to bully Afghan civilians. When faced with Afghan or NATO troops, the Pakistanis tend to quickly die,
or flee, or both.
all this effort, the overall casualty rate so far this year has been less than
half what it was last year. The Taliban are active this year, but so more it's
mostly smoke, and not a lot of fire. It's the NATO and government forces that
are on the offensive this year, and the Taliban is desperate to change this embarrassing
state of affairs.