Daily Archives: October 24, 2010

Afghan Roundup

Ok…this is total confirmation bias here but after such a long period of bad news about Afghanistan how can’t one link to a story with a headline that says:

Coalition Forces Routing Taliban in Key Afghan Region

‘Rout’ has a nice ring to it.  Now we just have to hope it’s true.  I’m not sure entirely why, but this statement makes me a bit nervous:

Some of the gains seem to have come from a new mobile rocket that has pinpoint accuracy — like a small cruise missile — and has been used against the hideouts of insurgent commanders around Kandahar.

Really?  So the answer is rooted in better military hardware?  Hmmmm…Is this how the NYTimes is making ends meet in these tough economic times?  Product placement ads to arms manufacturers?

Two paragraphs below that we see the sort of thing we would hope to hear in a COIN environment:

Unlike the Marja operation, they say, the one in Kandahar is a comprehensive civil and military effort that is changing the public mood as well as improving security.

Good news/bad news:  Recommending talking to insurgents is no longer automatically grounds from hysterical charges of treason but the much ballyhooed talks with the Taliban aren’t much to get excited about at this point.

Alex Strick van Linschoten, an expert on the Taliban and co-editor of a recent autobiography of a top Taliban official, Mullah Abdul Salaam Zaeef, is skeptical about all the hype. He calls it a “blunt force PR campaign” released by the U.S. military and certain government officials, hoping to prop up flagging enthusiasm at home for what more and more Americans see as a losing battle.

“Certainly, what’s going on is nowhere near as exciting or progress-filled as the media are making it out to be,” he said. “If you dig down deep into the sourcing on a lot of these stories, it’s all still rumors and shadow-play.”

The inherent contradiction and confusion inherent in publicly supporting a COIN campaign and talking about withdrawal in a relatively short time frame leads to statements like this from insurgents:

“Now many people are travelling to Afghanistan because they hope that the Western troops will soon pull out of our country and a new future will start.”