Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Eastern Resolve II

Way back in the last millennium, when Europa raged red with fire and blood -- Deutschland's cutting edge panzer gruppes struck fast, hard and deep into mommie Russia coming within field glasses range of the Kremlin itself.

Advent of a literally killer winter, Soviet Siberian divisions and the overstretched Wehrmacht combined to stymie the Deutsch advance and hurl invaders away from Mockba, saving the Stalinesque regime.

After the front lines stabilized and panic stricken panzerwaffe recovered their nerves (and the sacking of several Field Marshals) German commanders began re reading their Caulaincourt - the definitive account of Napoleon's rowdy rush into Russia and the horrific slow freezing retreat from Moscow.

Fast forward into the new millennium and the current overseas contingencies in AFPAKland may explain why certain cats are re reading their Stoker - "6 Reasons Why Insurgencies Lose" and Cahil's counter piece "6 Reasons Why Counterinsurgencies Lose" (PDF only).

The recent "Operation Strike of the Sword" has stalled - because of "Taliban's Winning Strategy."

"...The failure in Helmand (yes, the offensive has already failed) means it is impossible to control the countryside. Even 50,000 reinforcements will not change that. More troops in Kandahar are useless.

"Taliban have made quick progress in the northeast (Baghlan, Kunduz, Takhar) and northwest (Badghis, Herat, Ghor). To stop them in these provinces should be the absolute priority. The last German operation in Kunduz did not do that.

"The Taliban, which have been dominant in the countryside (in the Pashtun belt), are now attacking the cities (Gardez, Khost, Pul-i Alam). So this must be the other priority: to secure the cities.

"But it is impossible to do more than partially secure the cities in the Pashtun belt. Maybe it is not too late to stop the Taliban (or slow them) in the north, but I don't think it is a priority for the U.S. military now, and more troops next year (since 2002, it is always "more troops next year") will not change positively the situation...."

While insurgencies are often praised and perversely admired for their magical abilities to adapt, evolve and continue the mission - such nigh bromance misses a crucial point:

When it comes to combat flexibility on any tactical, strategic and theatre wide scale -- Great Satan wrote the book on it.

Operation "Eastern Resolve II" kicks off with leathernecked Teuffel Hunden choppering in unannounced into a Taliban stronghold - literally taking them on in the living room.

Fighting lasted more than eight hours, as Harrier jets streaked overhead.

"Eastern Resolve 2," is designed to break the monthslong stalemate in this southern valley where the Taliban are solidly entrenched. By occupying Dahaneh, the Marines hope to isolate insurgents in woods and mountains, away from civilian centers.

"The goal is to cut off the Taliban from a major rear base, and reclaim the area's market district. It is hoped this would have a ripple effect through nearby villages, making civilians more willing to cooperate with NATO forces. The Taliban levy taxes and maintain checkpoints in Dahaneh, which serves as a main trading route through northern Helmand, which produces 60 percent of the world's opium."

Despite concerns about Surging rural turf -- instead of Iraq's cities -- there are some significant points to remember:

"Sure, it may be that the Taliban aren't losing, which for any insurgent group is part of a strategy to win so as to wait out the domestic political clocks in the U.S. and other NATO countries.

"But it's worth recalling that the Taliban are a rather small force of up to perhaps 20,000 fighters that hasn't been able to hold on to towns in the more than seven years they have been fighting, let alone take cities.

"There will never be a Taliban Tet Offensive or anything remotely close to it. The Taliban are not winning, nor are they enjoying the upper hand.

"The movement of religious warriors will try to show the black flag of jihad around the August 20th election.

"It will not be much of an impressive effort.

Art - "Eastern Resolve II" by ThunderBob