Monday, June 02, 2008

Not on Obama’s Travel Itinerary

Facing a steady stream of good news from Iraq over the past year, Democratic politicians and the MSM have often responded with warnings about Afghanistan. Attacks were on the upswing , they claimed, and insurgents were expanding their operational base. No less an expert than Barack Obama has pledged a speedy withdrawal from Iraq, so we can “finish” the job in Afghanistan. You know, the same country where, according to Mr. Obama, U.S. forces have “air-raided” villages, killing scores of civilians.

Someone might want to pass this item from the U.K. Telegraph to Mr. Obama. According to the Commander of British forces in Afghanistan, missions by special forces teams and air strikes by unmanned drones have “decapitated” the Taliban, and “brought the conflict to a tipping point.” At that assessment is correct, there may not be much of a job to finish in Afghanistan.

As the Telegraph’s Thomas Harding reports:

The new "precise, surgical" tactics have killed scores of insurgent leaders and made it extremely difficult for Pakistan-based Taliban leaders to prosecute the campaign, according to Brig Mark Carleton-Smith.

In the past two years an estimated 7,000 Taliban have been killed, the majority in southern and eastern Afghanistan. But it is the "very effective targeted decapitation operations" that have removed "several echelons of commanders".

This in turn has left the insurgents on the brink of defeat, the head of Task Force Helmand said.
"The Taliban are much weaker," he said from 16 Air Assault Brigade headquarters in Lashkar Gah.

"The tide is clearly ebbing not flowing for them. Their chain of command is disrupted and they are short of weapons and ammunition."

Brigadier Carleton-Smith is a veteran of multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, so his analysis can’t be dismissed as that of a p.r. mouthpiece, or rear-echelon briefer. He believes last year’s targeting killing of Mullah Dadullah, the Taliban Chief, was a seminal moment in the campaign.

"We have seen increasing fissures of stress through the whole organisation that has led to internecine and fratricidal strife between competing groups."

Taliban fighters are apparently becoming increasingly unpopular in Helmand, where they are reliant on the local population for food and water.

Carleton-Smith also said that coalition forces have “marginalized” the ability of Al Qaida and Taliban commanders to run operations from neighboring Pakistan. He predicted that the terrorists will shift tactics from pitched battles, to roadside bombs and ambushes, similar to insurgent operations in Iraq.

The British commander told the Telegraph that the next major task is to regenerate the economy, in order to win over the population.

As readers know, the GOP has been chiding Mr. Obama for the lengthy gap since his last visit to Iraq. Perhaps we missed it, but we can’t find any record of the Senator making a similar trip to Afghanistan. And, given the continued progress in that country, don’t look for Senator Obama to make that visit anytime soon.

1 comment:

davod said...

The Brit soldier is a great fighter who operates well with far fewer resources than the US would normally use.

It is truly amazing thought that a Brit general would step out to claim success. After all, it was the Brits who were intent on leaving the field based upon series of handshakes, that the Taliban would leave the place alone (Pakistan, anyone).

UK Blog Defence of The Realm has a more sober and balanced report. The punch line:

"...While we have no reason to doubt the effect of these operations, what makes the piece remarkable is that the activities of the US forces have been "airbrushed" out of the account.

Yet it was, after all, elements of the US 82nd Airborne Division which were pivotal in the re-taking of Musa Qala at the end of last year – with the help of considerable US air support assets.

And, for all the apparent triumphalism, this was an "opportunistic" operation which had not been scheduled by the British command and, for which – it appears – they were unprepared, with the normal leave rotation in process amongst the battle groups.

Further, after two years of unsuccessful attempts by British troops, it was the US 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit which, in late April, took Garmsir in southern Helmand.

With fighting continuing - almost entirely unreported by the British MSM - Col. Pete Petronzio, US Marine commander, describes the current action as "… attempting to put a stopper in the bottle," claiming that his troops are, "having an extremely positive effect on their [the Taleban's] south-to-north flow".

That might just be partially responsible for the shortage of weapons and ammunition described by Harding, but we are not allowed to know that...."