Leadership: January 28, 2003

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While al Qaeda and the Taliban were shocked by the speed and destructive ability of U.S. Army Special Forces on the ground and smart bombs from above, they have quickly adapted. Even before the Taliban had lost control of Afghanistan, they were beginning to deal with the hard hitting and fast moving American tactics. Noting how easily they could be spotted from the air, the al Qaeda men stopped using trucks and armored vehicles and went back to moving around by foot or horseback. Cell phone use plummeted when it was realized that the Americans could overhear and track the calls. The al Qaeda learned how to detect different types of American warplanes by their sound and appearance in the sky. The AC-130 gunship was particularly feared, and avoided, as was the Predator UAV and high flying bombers. Despite boasts that they would meet and defeat American infantry, the Taliban and al Qaeda quickly discovered that this was also a losing experience. So they fell back to what has essentially become guerilla operations. So far, this new approach has reduced al Qaeda casualties, but not their losses. Hundreds of al Qaeda have been rounded up in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Dozens more have been killed after armed encounters with U.S. troops. Al Qaeda sniping and small (43 pound) rocket attacks on American bases has produced few casualties. So far, the al Qaeda and Taliban fighters have adapted to American tactics, but have done so at the expense of their own effectiveness, U.S. Army Special Forces have also been out in the hills chasing after al Qaeda and developing new tactics to do so. US bribes and favors have gotten information on where enemy arms supplies are hidden, but not a lot of information on al Qaeda or Taliban leaders. But these guys are feeling the heat, even though they have managed to use their wits to avoid American troops for the moment.

 


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