The Afghan Taliban announced that this year’s spring offensive would begin on April 28 and would focus on suicide assaults on Coalition installations, as well as “insider attacks” against Western personnel.
The Taliban, under the guise of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, announced the “‘Khalid bin Waleed’ spring operation” on their website, Voice of Jihad, today. The offensive is named after a companion of the Prophet Mohammed and military general whose victories helped establish the first caliphate.
The Taliban indicated that the attacks would focus primarily on the “foreign invaders,” or Coalition forces operating under the command of the International Security Assistance Forces. The Taliban stressed that they would use “special military tactics” and “collective martyrdom operations,” a reference to suicide assaults, and “insider attacks,” or green-on-blue attacks, in which Afghan security forces attack ISAF personnel.
“This year’s spring operation, in accordance with its combat nature, will consist of special military tactics quantity and quality wise while successful insider attacks, to eliminate foreign invaders, will be carried out by infiltrating Mujahideen inside enemy bases in a systematic and coordinated manner,” the Taliban stated.
“Similarly, collective martyrdom operations on bases of foreign invaders, their diplomatic centers and military airbases will be even further structured while every possible tactic will be utilized in order to detain or inflict heavy casualties on the foreign transgressors,” the statement continued.
The Taliban carried out several suicide assaults on major ISAF installations last year, including attacks in Kabul and three other provinces just days after announcing the 2012 spring offensive. The Taliban’s most successful suicide assault against an ISAF installation took place at Camp Bastion in Helmand province. A 15-man Taliban team penetrated security at the base, destroyed six Marine Harriers and damaged two others, and killed the squadron commander and a sergeant.
Insider, or green-on-blue attacks, spiked last year, with 44 such attacks reported; these attacks accounted for 15% of Coalition deaths. There have been four insider attacks reported so far this year. The Taliban claimed last August that they had created a “Call and Guidance, Luring and Integration” department to infiltrate Afghan forces or turn personnel against their Western partners.
The Taliban’s announcement today also warned Afghans to “stay away from the bases of the invaders, their residential areas or working for them in order to avoid civilian losses.” Additionally, the Taliban called on “all the officials and workers of the stooge Karzai regime to break away from this decaying administration.”
Finally, the Taliban called on Afghan “religious figures, tribal elders and all the influential figures of society” to discourage men from “joining the ranks of America’s mercenary programs (army, police, arbaki [tribal militias])….”
Each spring, the Taliban have issued similar statements about their planned offensives, and the targets of the operations have also been similar. In an announcement of the Al Badar spring offensive in 2011, the Taliban said they would would focus on “military centers, places of gatherings, airbases, ammunition and logistical military convoys of the foreign invaders in all parts of the country.” The Taliban said that their tactics would include “group and martyrdom seeking attacks,” or suicide attacks and assaults; “group offensives,” or massed assaults; and “city attacks,” ambushes, and IED attacks.
Last year’s spring offensive, dubbed Al Farooq, also indicated the Taliban would attack ISAF personnel, but differed from the previous year by putting a stronger emphasis on targeting Afghan security personnel and government officials.
The recent stronger emphasis on the targeting of foreign personnel is an indication that the Taliban are seeking to score a propaganda victory by attacking Coalition personnel as the bulk of forces are withdrawn this year. ISAF is ending combat operations and withdrawing its military forces by the end of 2014 and transferring security responsibility to Afghan forces.