How the Taliban Fight
What is interesting about warfare is that both sides learn how to fight one another based upon their own techniques. This happened during the Vietnam war when the French and then the Americans fought against the same enemy. Both sides adapted. The Israelis adapted as have Hezbollah.
The US offensive at Marjah, Afghanistan, which was suppose to be a major battle, was carefully orchestrated and planned to reduce civilian casualties. Unlike in past battles, the US announced weeks ahead of time for civilians to get out of the town. This also allowed the Taliban to prepare. There was no surprise element. The strategy is called the " McChrystal Doctrine". Basically,it is win the hearts and minds of the Afghan civilians with social projects that help the population while carefully killing "obvious" Taliban. The Marjah battle lasted only a few days, cost the Taliban 600 men to only 15 US-Afghan. The US had over 10,000 men in the operation to maybe 1000 Taliban.
The new rules for US soldiers are:
Troops cannot engage or shoot at anything but a Taliban seen with a gun. This forces troops to close in close enough to clearly see the enemy with a gun. It forces the troops to slug it out in house to house confines. Of course, not all US soldiers strictly follow this rule and empty their weapons into a bush or house where a gun was fired from. But this could get the soldiers court martialed. The battle showed some serious issues with this doctrine. For instance, many Taliban were allowed to walk away because they had no weapon. This same man may have been firing from a concealed area and ran out of ammo, tossed his weapon, and strolled out with hands up to fight another day.
Before US soldiers can call in an air strike, they must go through numerous steps, all to reduce civilian casualties. This can take as long as 40 minutes as the Marjah battle showed. A guaranteed safe way for the Taliban is simply to have human shields. Many times in the battle, Taliban fighters used "shields" to guarantee their own survival. Having a shield is akin to a "no fire zone".
The Afghan Army still has a long way. Most of the units fighting along US troops entered the battle "stoned" from smoking marijuana. Most refused orders many times when they felt like it. Worse, are the police. The US gave free radios to all the inhabitants of Marjah who remained. When the police arrived to take over, they took all the radios away from their own people!
One step forward, one step back. Welcome to Afghanistan.
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