February 4, 2010:
The Pakistani Taliban leadership have gathered to choose a new leader, their third in the last seven months. All this is the result of an improved intelligence effort in the tribal territories of Pakistan, where the Taliban has a lot of support. But that support is not universal, and many people in the area consider the Taliban a big threat to just about everything. The spread of cell phone service has made it easier for people to become paid informants for the government, and this has led to a sharp increase in tips on where Taliban members, and especially their leaders, are meeting or spending the night. The Taliban have tried to destroy cell phone towers, and eliminate cell phones from the region. But the devices are too popular, especially among their members and supporters. Most critically, in the last 18 months, the new civilian government has cracked down on Pakistani intelligence agencies, firing pro-Taliban officers, and forcing others to cooperate with American intelligence. The new civilian government also gave the Americans a free hand in choosing, and attacking, targets. Now, for the first time, the U.S. is getting a steady flow of high quality targeting information from Pakistani intel organizations, and permission to act on it quickly within Pakistan.
Since last Summer, twelve out of the top 20 Taliban and al Qaeda leaders have been killed via American missile armed UAVs (along with over 500 lower ranking terrorists). These deaths have caused younger, and less experienced men to move up to leadership positions they are not really qualified to handle. This has led to increasing disorganization and internal squabbling (which is sometimes settled with a gun battle.)