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'Last Gasp' of the Taliban?



Panetta-LWJ.jpg


Ten days ago, US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta claimed that the green-on-blue attacks, in which Afghan security personnel are killing Coalition forces, were evidence of the "last gasp" of the Taliban.

His remarks were ill-timed; just days before, the Taliban stormed Camp Bastion in Helmand province, destroying six of the eight aircraft in a USMC Harrier squadron, and killing the squadron commander and a sergeant. Several days later, the US and NATO suspended operations with Afghan forces due to the green-on-blue attacks. Meanwhile, data released by ISAF continues to show that the Taliban remains a resilient fighting force, not one whose "momentum is broken," as President Obama has characterized it. The comments by Panetta and Obama are reminiscent of former Vice President Dick Cheney's remark in 2005 that the Iraqi insurgency was "in the last throes," when it was anything but.

For more background information, see Long War Journal and Threat Matrix reports:

Analysis: The Taliban's 'momentum' has not been broken
ISAF data show insurgent attacks down, civilian casualties up
6 Harrier jets destroyed, 2 damaged in Taliban assault on Camp Bastion
US military suspends combat patrols with Afghan forces
Afghanistan - now what?



READER COMMENTS: "'Last Gasp' of the Taliban?"

Posted by warhawk at September 27, 2012 5:53 PM ET:

During WW I snd WW II,the Allies strategy and policy was to KILL as many of the enemy's civilian as possible until population surrenders out of fear of eradication. 95 percent of the world still believe this conduct of war, EXCEPT US and EU countries. NATO will NEVER WIN a war and actually keep the peace in the 21st Century for as long as they continue to hold their STUPID Laws of War and Geneva Convention crap over Victory at all cost. The Taliban are still fighting because their population are mainly intact, continuing to breed new generation of Islamic Ratbags. Even the Syrian Army could have wiped out the Taliban way back in 2002.

Posted by JWS at September 27, 2012 7:44 PM ET:

I have much respect for SECDEF Panetta but it just shows the disconnect from the real ground truth. Why do we always tout things like this? Why increase the enemies resolve? It would be refreshing to here the real thoughts of leaders such as Panetta. There is such a world of hurt coming with the pullout of our regulars. Over time it will be like we were never there. Lets hope the infighting between factions will lesson the pain some.

Posted by My2Cents at September 27, 2012 10:19 PM ET:

I don't know what Panetta and his handlers are smoking, but I'll take a hit. It has got to be some powerful stuff.

Posted by Larry at September 28, 2012 6:13 PM ET:

Posted by JWS at September 27, 2012 7:44 PM ET:

" I have much respect for SECDEF Panetta but it just shows the disconnect from the real ground truth. Why do we always tout things like this? Why increase the enemies resolve? It would be refreshing to here the real thoughts of leaders such as Panetta. There is such a world of hurt coming with the pullout of our regulars. Over time it will be like we were never there. Lets hope the infighting between factions will lesson the pain some."

Well, what do expect Panetta to say? “They beat the Brits. They beat the Russians. And now they beat us.”

No; they will claim victory in Afghanistan and their version of events will probably go over with the average American. Obama can probably get away with claiming victory in Afghanistan insofar as the 2012 Election is concerned. John Q. America will sleep easy tonight but those of us who follow this stuff closely know that by 2015 (if not sooner) Al Qaeda and/or other like-minded groups will likely have an operational safe-haven in Afganistan once again. Within a few years after that, say 2018, another 9/11 will be carried out…and we will be back where we were 17 years prior.

Or maybe not.

The point I’m making is that Panetta has to get up and put a positive spin on it. You and I don’t like being lied to but I would not expect him to get up and admit defeat, would you?

Posted by David at October 1, 2012 5:00 PM ET:

A question -- I really don't know if this is right, I am just
asking opinions.

Considering that we are really fighting Pakistan, and Pakistan has us by the short hairs as long as we are running our supply lines through their country, AND that Pakistan is fighting us
through proxies, so that they really are not suffering casualties in the same way we are --

Is it a better strategy to pull our troops out of Afghanistan, but then try to continue the war as a proxy war, with our proxies against theirs, and ours augmented by drone strikes, CIA, and special forces? Al Qaeda wouldn't really be able to run training camps, because they would be hit by the drones in pretty much the same way they are being hit in Pakistan. We run the war on the cheap, stop funding Pakistan, and now its our proxies against theirs, and our budget against theirs, and our budget will win, regardless of how bad our economy is.

Yes, the Taliban will gain some ground, but not all of it. We continue to supply weapons, etc. to the Afghan government, and continue to suffer from their waste and corruption. But their intelligence service is pretty good, and as long as they can hold some of the country, we can harass the Taliban pretty effectively from that slice.

It pains me to leave Afghanistan unfinished, but I don't see how we can win if Pakistan controls our supply lines. They will choke us off if we are ever getting close to winning, or even inflicting pain. But the next time Pakistani troops shoot across the border, we can shoot back, and REALLY shoot back, without fear of them cutting us off.

Not saying this is the right answer, just wanted some opinions...

Posted by irebukeu at October 4, 2012 11:20 AM ET:

@David..... Yep.... with Russia, Uzbekistan, India, Iran, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan footing the bill as well. Id say you hit the nail on the head..... but that's just my opinion.

Posted by Delta Mike at October 14, 2012 9:59 PM ET:

We will continue to waste our blood and treasure in these pointless conflicts until we get our strategy straight: we need to acknowledge that the enemy is ISLAMIC JIHAD not "Violent Extremists". Once we follow our own doctrine as delineated in FM34-130, and start from the FACTS on the ground and work backwards to who's doing what and why, everything will then fall into place.
The first thing we will have to admit is that the Pakistanis and the Afghans are unlikely to help us against their co-religionists in their Qur'anically sanctioned Jihad against the "kuffar" Americans. They will, however, tell us what we want to hear to keep the money and equipment flowing as long as possible.