The Great Taliban Turkey Shoot


Coalition and Afghan Forces continue to decimate Taliban elements in southern and eastern Afghanistan

Afghanistan NATO 1.JPG

Map of ISAF Mission in Afghanistan. Click to Enlarge.

There is a hidden war being fought in Afghanistan, a war where NATO forces are playing a large role in combating Taliban forces outside of the view of the Western press. A little know fact is there are over 1,000 French troops in the region, including special forces units that are hunting al Qaeda and Taliban fighters in the harsh mountains. Two French soldiers were recently killed fighting the Taliban. The French rarely release numbers of the Taliban and al Qaeda killed during operations, and the numbers are high. The operations are truly 'dark.'

The latest report from the region indicates that Australian soldiers from the Special Forces Task Group have killed "more than 150 Taliban and al Qaeda fighters during nine days of fierce fighting in southern Afghanistan." The action was part of Operation Perth and occurred over the month of July. The enemy to friendly numbers killed are off the charts. The Australians suffered six wounded during the operation in the restive Chora district in Uruzgan province.

Chora was the scene of intense fighting over the summer, and Uruzgan, along with Helmand and Kunar provinces, are perhaps the most dangerous provinces in Afghanistan. In early June, the Chora police station was overrun and subsequently retaken by Afghan forces. Operation Perth was very likely a follow on operation. Uruzgan continues to remain a security problem.

Elsewhere in Afghanistan, Coalition and Afghan forces remain on the offensive. The crush of Taliban fighters coming across the Pakistani border makes for a target rich environment.

The town of Garmsir in Helmand province has been retaken by "200 Afghan troops backed by 40 Danish, British and Estonian soldiers." ISAF detained 7 Taliban attempting to flee the Panjwai battlefield. "Insurgent movements in the desert south of Pashmul, and in routes across Baram Cha and beyond to the Helmand Valley, are now severely curtailed by ISAF patrols," reports ISAF. Six Taliban were killed and 21 captured in various operations in the south and east. The Khaleej Times is reporting a commander of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Hezb-e-Islami, along with "six associates" were captured "at a compound near Hafezan in eastern Nangarhar province." The initial report of Hekmatyar's capture may be premature, however American intelligence sources are tight lipped on the subject at the moment.



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READER COMMENTS: "The Great Taliban Turkey Shoot"

Posted by Cruiser at September 12, 2006 1:02 PM ET:

Great title. Its funny that you happen to name it that. I am currently reading a history on the Marianas Islands campaign in WWII entitled "Hell Is Upon Us". Of course the Marianas Turkey Shoot figures prominently.

It is remarkable to see how this is twisted in the media: "200 killed in afghan fighting" - without mentioning that 199 of those killed were the bad guys. If today's media was reporting the Marianas campaign the headlines would have read "Hundreds of planes lost in massive naval air battle", giving the impression of a terrible US loss, and the battle would never have been given its (appropriate) name the "Marianas Turkey Shoot" for the number of Japanese warplanes that were destroyed.

Posted by empiresfall at September 12, 2006 1:19 PM ET:

Time will tell what will happen there.

Until then, blame the media.

Make sure, though, that you get your blaming strategy set up so you can quickly shift over to blaming the left.

Posted by JustaTroop at September 12, 2006 2:07 PM ET:

Empire falls: I don't believe the media is being "blamed" I am pretty sure they are the most stalwart ally the jihadis have (my only frame of reference is two tours in Iraq so what do I know). I think Cruiser is exactly right in his statement. The media are predominately made up of bottom feeders that dispise America and the military.

Posted by Dale in Atlanta at September 12, 2006 2:17 PM ET:

Bill: thanks for posting that. I read your site, and CT Blog, every day.

I haven't been keeping an exact count, but anyone with a military background, can see, that over the past 4 - 5 months, US/Coalition troops have absolutely HAMMERING the Taliban/Al Qaeada.

US/Coalition troop casulaties, over that time, number about 100; but if the numbers are anywhere accurate, over 1500, and maybe as many as 2000 Taliban/Al Qaeada have been killed!

No armed force, can sustain that type of imbalance in the kill ratio.

Doug Farrar seems to think that despite this, we're "Losing" in Afghanistan, and I had to send him an email, and ask him how he arrived at that conclusion, based upon the kill ratios?

So, it would be neat, if you could put up some "counters", or keep a running tab; I go to Antiwar.com, despite the fact that it's a lefty site, because they do keep accurate numbers on the US/Coalition casualties; but nobody keeps track, that I can find, of the Al Qaeda/Taliban/Insurgency casualties.

From your reporting, the Canadians have been pounding them too!

All this, plus the capture yesterday of GH, and I think it actually looks good there, but that's just me!

Posted by Dale in Atlanta at September 12, 2006 2:19 PM ET:

PS: I meant to mention, every time Unbiased MSM reporters, Reuters, reports on Afghanistan, they like to phrase the casualties like this:

"...over the past 2 months, over 2000 people have been killed in the violence....."

then, in the "fine print" a bit later...."most of them insurgents..."

But, they just bring themselves to display the numbers, to show: 1900 Taliban/Al Qaeda killed; 100 Coalition, because that would make it look like we're WINNING!

Posted by cjr at September 12, 2006 4:51 PM ET:

I've been keeping a running total. Since April 1 (~start of Taliban campaign to force NATO out of Aghanistan) :

Number of coalition deaths due to hostile action (not including accidents) = 79

Number of Taliban killed or captured = between 2350 - 2650

Posted by Cruiser at September 12, 2006 6:22 PM ET:

Joe C,

Last year Bill was documenting the U.S. military efforts to weaken the Sunni insurgency in the towns along the Euphrates and Tigris rivers in western Iraq. Those efforts were successful and remain a success. The military efforts did not try to control all of western Iraq. Some cities were left for Iraqi military or political solutions, like Ramadi. As a result - some violence continues.

To the extent he may have said the insurgency is "in its last throes", which I do not recall him ever saying or agreeing to, I think he would have been referring to the Sunni insurgency in relation to those efforts in Western Iraq. And, I think he would have been largely correct. The insurgency is has been tamped down quite a bit in those areas. Note, the last throes of an insurgency may go on for years and the violence may continue for some time - its not going to end like a water spigot being turned-off.

Much of the violence we are seeing now is sectarian violence (Shia and Sunni killing each other) which does not, in my opinion, constitute an insurgency. Bill identified the nature of this violence long time ago and has repeatedly stated that there is a risk of civil war - though he has also stated that he does not think there is a civil war now (a point on which I think most people agree).

Much of the sectarian violence may in fact be occurring because of our success against the Sunni insurgency (as documented by Bill). We have weakened the Sunni insurgency so much that it is not the main threat. The Sunni weakness has freed up the factions to begin fighting each other. Indeed, we now have a lot of instances where the Sunnis are begging us to stay (they fear the Shia more than they dislike our presence and know that we may be their only protection - in other words, they are acknowledging the weakness of the Sunni insurgency).

Bill provides information and context for the information. He also provides an intelligent analysis of the information that is lacking in the media (like the fact that it cannot be good for the Taliban to sustain 20 dead for every coalition death - can you really take issue with that?). He is not saying that we are guaranteed to win - just that the Taliban are taking a beating.

I agree with DJ, if you cannot handle it when someone analyzes information in the public realm in a manner that is not as simplistic as the media coverage, or if you do not think Bill is credible, then get your analysis and news somewhere else.

The fact that you linger here might indicate that you are concerned that Bill might mislead the other poor unsuspecting readers. If that is the case, please spare me (and the other readers) your protection. I think we can figure out for ourselves whether Bill is right.


Posted by Cruiser at September 12, 2006 7:57 PM ET:

Geez Bill, all that effort and you leave me looking like one of those disturbed people I sometimes see in the city who wildly shout and gesticulate at an imaginary adversary. ;)

I suppose deleting ankle-biters is a lot more efficient than arguing with them.

Posted by Dale in Atlanta at September 12, 2006 7:58 PM ET:

cjr: hi, that's good thank you! Maybe you could talk to Bill, and he could keep a "counter" on the site@

Thanks, R/dale

Posted by Bill Roggio at September 12, 2006 8:01 PM ET:

Cruiser,

This isn't and shouldn't be about me, or a defense of me. Joe C violated the policy and went off subject, so I deleted his comments. I had thought I deleted them prior to anyone seeing them, though...

Personal attacks or straying from the subject at hand won't be tolerated here.

And thanks for the kind words.

Posted by Andrew R. at September 12, 2006 10:46 PM ET:

Cruiser,

We have weakened the Sunni insurgency so much that it is not the main threat.

Not necessarily. The Ba'ath/AQI guys are by no means beaten. Attacks on coalition forces are in the neighborhood of 90 a day and have been there since June. The only time it was higher was for a while in 2005.

Posted by cjr at September 13, 2006 12:24 AM ET:

Andrew:
You are making the assumption that the Baath/AQI are responsible for the 90 attacks/day. Baath/AQI were pretty much defeated early this year.

You may want to consider the possibility that the main ones responsible for attacks now are Sadr/Mahdi Army supported by Iran.

Posted by cjr at September 13, 2006 12:35 AM ET:

Dale: Thanks for the suggestion, but I wouldn't presume on Bill. He is much better informed about this stuff than I am. :-)

Posted by Soldier's Dad at September 13, 2006 1:50 AM ET:

The "sigacts" of 90 a day..does not necessarily mean attacks on coalition.

They are just recorded...violent acts...we don't know if it was a dope deal gone bad or what.(Yes...they have dope dealers and pimps and all the rest in Iraq)

Somebody mortars LSA Anaconda and misse anything by a mile it goes down as a SIGACT.

The terrorist pigs know it is a measure, so they create actions that just push the stats up. Kinda like throwing M-80's out of the window of the car. The police will get tons of reports, but no one is hurt.

Murder rate in Baghdad is a key figure.

Posted by kaliph at September 13, 2006 10:38 AM ET:

While this is no longer on topic with the direction the comments have taken us, I've got a couple questions for Bill (if he's got the time) or anyone else:

1) Is there any thoughts as to why the Taliban/Al Qaeda are sending extremists across the border into Afghanistan en masse like lambs to the slaughter? Do they gain anything other than local (mainly Pakistani?) outrage at all the deaths? Possibly the illusion of strength in numbers?

2) Also, given Pakistan's recent truce & subsequent creation of the Islamic Republic of Waziristan (IRW, Talibanistan, whatever), do you think this might make it easier for both the US to operate (ie. have the Pakistanis sign off on missions) in this region? If so, this seems like one potentially good aspect of the truce, which should draw militants not only from Pakistan, but the entire region, giving Task Force 145 plenty of targets perhaps.

Posted by cjr at September 13, 2006 2:43 PM ET:

1) Taliban's STRATEGY for 2006 has been well publicized by them. In 2006 NATO has assumed responsibility for South Afghanistan(troops are mostly Canada, UK , Holland, Australia). The Taliban thinks that the political support for this mission is weak. They think that if they kill sufficient numbers of NATO troops this year, NATO political support will collapse and NATO troops will pull out. From their point of view., the important factor is killing NATO troops. Number of Taliban killed is not important in their calculation. Apparently, they think they can sustain high casuality rates

The TACTICAL implemetation of their strategy is to send as many Taliban across the border as possible. It seems they think that skill level is not as important as numbers. There mission is killing as many NATO as possible. Therefore, they are not engaging in hit hand run. They take some ground expecting that this will force NATO to engage with the Taliban. And engagement will result in NATO casualite. I am sure they realize that holding ground will result in NATO bringing their supperior air and artillery to bear and that they will take high casualites. This is considered acceptable IF it also means that NATO will take casulties.

The strategy has not yet worked for the Taliban. They have not been able to kill enough NATO troops to cause a political collapse in NATO countries. On the other hand, they are taking huge casualies, probably higher than they expected, but not so high that they think their strategy is failing and should be called off.......yet. We will see if the current Canadian operation (420 killed, 80 captured) will be enough to change their minds.

Anyway, this Taliban operation will come to an end next month as winter sets. The real question to consider now is: what lessons will the Taliban take from this year's campaign and how will they change their strategy for 2007.

Posted by sven ringwald at October 31, 2006 7:07 PM ET:

all this success is wonderfull,but where are the germans in this theater....?
dont they have thausands of troops down there,??
why dont we hear anything from them?
are they in hiding or smthng ?