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.