Afghanistan: Preparing for the Spring Offensive


February16, 2007: An American paratroop brigade, that was headed for Iraq, has been ordered to Afghanistan instead. That would put two U.S. combat brigades in Afghanistan, rather than the usual one. Various special troops, including Special Forces, give the U.S. the equivalent of another combat brigade. There are 27,000 American troops in Afghanistan, and the additional brigade will increase that to 30,000. The Taliban are boasting that they will put "10,000 fighters into bloody attacks" this Spring. If so, they will be facing about three times as many American, NATO and Afghan troops. Some 4,000 people died in Taliban violence last year, most of them Taliban, and less than a hundred of them Americans and NATO troops.

February 14, 2007: Pakistan has ordered 2.4 million Afghan refugees, some living in Pakistan since the 1980s, to return home by 2009. Pakistan believes these refugees, most in camps near the Afghan border, are a major source of Taliban support. Many of the refugees have made new lives in Pakistan, and have nothing to go home to. Resistance to this order is expected, especially since the Afghan government says it cannot handle that many refugees returning so quickly.

February 13, 2007: British and Afghan troops in the south have driven off a force of some 700 Taliban fighters, who were trying to stage an attack on a hydroelectric project. Several dozen Taliban were killed or captured. Some of the Taliban appear to be al Qaeda foreigners from Pakistan. In the southern town of Musa Qala, where a pro-Taliban tribal faction has taken over last week, at least a dozen Taliban in the town were killed, including their leader, and the rest driven away.

February 12, 2007: NATO commanders believe that they can break Taliban morale, and military capability, in two years. But this will be easier if NATO had more troops in action, or if more of the NATO troops in Afghanistan were allowed to fight.

February 11, 2007: Over the last few days, NATO (mainly British) troops in the south have spotted, and gone after, large number of Taliban who were apparently massing to attack a hydroelectric project. So far, at least 21 Taliban have been killed. Meanwhile, for the first time in months, two Taliban rockers were fired at Kandahar airport. One man was wounded.

February 11, 2007:Pakistan is largely ignoring American artillery firing across the border at Taliban mortar, rocket launching or machine-gun positions in Pakistan. The U.S. guns take out the Taliban fighters, who believe they are safe from such retaliation because of the official rules prohibiting American artillery from firing in Pakistan.


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