Afghan, Coalition forces strike the Taliban in Kunduz

Afghan forces, backed by Coalition troops, have killed more than 130 Taliban fighters during an operation in the northern province of Kunduz. Eight Taliban commanders were among those killed while the operation “disrupted the insurgent shadow governor in Kunduz province.”

The operation took place in the district of Chahara Dara, one of several districts contested by or under the control of the Taliban.

More than 700 Afghan security forces backed by 50 NATO soldiers carried out the five-day-long operation that cleared the Taliban from a number of villages, the US military reported in a press release. The provincial governor said 133 Taliban fighters were killed during the operation.

Over the past two years, the situation in Kunduz province has rapidly deteriorated, and Kunduz has become a Taliban hot spot in the once-quiet Afghan North.

Attacks in Kunduz have spiked over the past three months as the Taliban have tried to disrupt NATO’s new supply line from Tajikistan to the north. NATO sought the new supply route after the Taliban began to effectively interdict supply columns passing through Pakistan’s Taliban insurgency-infested Northwest Frontier Province.

The Taliban, backed by Central Asian fighters from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and its offshoot Islamic Jihad Group, have established a safe haven in the Afghan North. Of the seven districts in Kunduz province, only two are considered to be under government control; the rest of the districts – Chahara Dara, Dashti Archi, Ali Abab, Khan Abad, and Iman Sahib – are considered contested or under Taliban control, according to a map produced by Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry. Two districts in neighboring Baghlan province – Baghlan-i-Jadid and Burka – are under the control of the Taliban [see LWJ report, “Afghan forces and Taliban clash in Kunduz”, and Threat Matrix report, “Afghanistan’s wild-wild north”].

Afghan forces, backed by German forces in the North, have continued to fight it out with the Taliban despite a series of operations launched in the spring and summer to drive out the Taliban.

The Taliban have conducted assaults against police checkpoints, killed senior political and military leaders, and kidnapped civilians who were sending their daughters to school. The Taliban and the IMU and IJU are attempting to wage a suicide bombing campaign in Kunduz and Baghlan. Several suicide bombers have been killed by police or died from the premature detonation of their explosives.

Earlier this fall, Kunduz was the scene of a controversial airstrike on two Taliban-hijacked fuel tankers. Sixty-nine Taliban fighters and 30 civilians were killed after a German commander called in US F-15s to strike the tankers, which were stuck in a river bed. The German commander feared the tankers would be used in a suicide attack against their base nearby.

Unlike airstrikes in other areas, the attacks drew little controversy inside Afghanistan.

“If we do three more operations like was done the other night, stability will come to Kunduz,” Ahmadullah Wardak, the head of a local council, told General Stanley McChrystal when the general attempted to apologize for the strike.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.



  • J hOUSE says:

    According to our own commander in a 60 minutes interview, it does not matter how many enemy we kill, but only how many afghan civilians are not killed by the enemy and our forces.
    If this is truly the measure of our success or failure, we are still ‘losing’….and we will ‘lose’ afghanistan and pakistan. (by that measure, we are losing the war at home too..civilians and military forces were decimated last Thursday in a terrorist attack at Ft Hood, higher than any single day loss of life due to enemy fire in both Irag and Afghanistan over the last 8 yrs)
    I disagree with our military leadership…we need to be killing the enemy by the TENS of THOUSANDS wherever they are (including all of Pakistan), as well as protect the civlian population.
    As long as the enemy exists, they will do violence to the civilian population and coalition forces.

  • ArneFufkin says:

    Jhouse you apparently don’t subscribe to the tenets of counterinsurgency as successfully applied in Iraq. The locals HATE the Taliban just as the Sunnis in Anbar HATED the Al-Qaida after a time. But until you secure the general population, there is no way to isolate the bad guys and build the governing and economic institutions necessary to lead the locals to get off the fence and turn on the Taliban in their midst. You can’t kill enough of these punks to make a difference in the community mindset of fear and mistrust, but you can coax the reconcilable punks simply out for a payday to protect their tribes/communities (i.e. Anbar Awakening) if they feel they have a secure and prosperous future. That’s the only way they’ll turn on the irreconcilable Salafists who only can be killed, captured or driven away.
    Right now, the average Afghan is waiting to see whether we’re staying or going. Until they are totally convinced we’re staying, they’re not going to put they’re necks on the line because literally that is what they’d be doing if we retreated and the Taliban came back to their villages looking for retribution.
    This is why Obama’s perception of dithering is so counterproductive to the vital success of this mission. The Afghans have no confidence we’re with them for the long run, and rightfully so.

  • zotz says:

    Successful COIN campaigns depend on a reliable government that can deliver services to the people. It isn’t merely a question of throwing 40,000 American troops at the problem. We can’t tolerate the Afghan political class to sit back and grow rich from siphoning international aid and covertly supporting the drug trade. Without a working Afghan government with a president that does not undermine his own courts by pardoning convicted drug barons we could put in 400,000 troops in and they still would not be able to defeat the Taliban.

  • KaneKaizer says:

    This may not be a “turning point” or “decisive victory”, but it pleases me to know that 133 Taliban are no longer free to run amongst the civilians, endangering their lives and beating women for no good reason.

  • Alex says:

    Alright, now this is great progress. What I am talking about though is this figure in particular:
    “More than 700 Afghan security forces backed by 50 NATO soldiers carried out the five-day-long operation”
    This war is, for lack of better terms, won when ANA/AP are leading the fight. Everything else is just to build them to that point.

  • Civy says:

    Jhouse, the Soviets bombed whole villages out of existence and killed 3-5 million people in Afghanistan. Not only didn’t it work, but the population fled to refugee camps in Pak where the Mooj could walk through a refugee camp and raise an army of able-bodied men, fed on international food aid, in an afternoon. Sorry, the sledgehammer approach doesn’t work. Even war is more complex than that.
    RE: where have the Chechnya and Tajikistan Tali-badasses fled to from S Waziristan? Hummm, how about back to their homelands, with a stop in N Afghanistan along the way to get their martyr complex serviced? Seems likely. Nice terrain for the killing too. Hopefully we are following them with Predators and will harass them to death at every opportunity.
    I find it hard to believe this is what Allah had in mind as the crowning achievement of Islam. Rule of thumb, when someone mixes “God” and “Kill” in the same sentence, run the other way.

  • Civy says:

    Just an observation here, but it does seem like when it comes to “clear, hold, build”, if the first two get done well, the latter might be best left to the indigenous population. It sure seemed like that was the case in Iraq.
    Perhaps large infrastructure projects are an exception, like bridges, but for the most part western contractors made an absolute mess of things in Iraq, and the level of frustration with NGOs in Afghanistan is well-documented.
    We have a healthcare debate raging in this country, and having NGOs or GOs providing services in lieu of open competition is a big part of that debate. Imagine the frustration of Afghanis trying to deal with and make sense of dozens of different, uncoordinated NGO and GO efforts with miles and mile of red tape, some of which conflicts, I’m sure.
    I’d be interested in your observations, but it looks to me like we could shorten CHB to C&H and be better off all the way around in the bargain.

  • Minnor says:

    Kunduz was long overdue. Isolated place from rest of taliban, non-pashto language etc.
    We need to learn to secure the borders. Fences need to be erected where there are approach road. Only border checkposts without adjoining fence will make for relaying by walk. Stop the vehicle 1 km away from the checkpost and carry weapon by walk around the checkpost, easier in night.

  • zotz says:

    In theory you are right that Afghans should be rebuilding their own country. But a recent report placed Afghanistan as the second poorest country in the world with a very high illiteracy rate. They do have natural resources that the Chinese are interested in. They have strategic importance for the surrounding countries. The UN and USAID have to coordinate their aid programs better and the burden of protecting the soft targets should not be the sole responsibility of the US military. We shouldn’t be expected to do everything.

  • David M says:

    The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 11/10/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

  • doubledown says:

    Probably the best thing I’ve read concerning the resurgence of the taliban:

  • Zeissa says:

    Actually, while I disagree with the overly heavy-handed and often murderous Soviet approach it did in fact work until western missiles made the war uneconomic.
    Your statement that partial genocide doesn’t work is a deluded lie. The Afghans were being butchered en masse and without Western weapons and aid their bases in Pakistan would have been limited to a cross-border effect.

  • Zeissa says:

    Furthermore, civilian losses while a great western doctrine is only one of the many demographics of war. It is pure propaganda that killing the enemy does not help. By that logic only defensive action is necessary.
    To put it in the words of local Afghans from Kunduz when the two gas trucks were blown up recently: ‘two-three more times of this and there will be no more Taliban in the area’.
    This is elementary. If one cannot grasp such concepts than I do not understand why one would bother with reading mil.

  • Zeissa says:

    In fact, while gaining the support of the local population by defensively (and offensively, thus already disproving the inane theory) protecting them and reducing civilian casualties is an incredibly efficient strategy under most circumstances…:
    It is about making the locals fight for you, rather than fighting oneself. An excellent strategy for democracies that do not wish to embroil themselves in war without local support both at home and abroad, and who wish to reduce the amount of blood shed. It is also a militarily effective strategy.
    But enough of this foolishness.

  • Zeissa says:

    The foolishness that a part of war is all there is to war of course.
    Reminds me of the ever ongoing discussion that nukes are everything.

  • Ahmad Tariq says:

    The strategies may be successful to some extent, but there is no way the U.S. can clear it to the Afghans that the U.S. is not in Afghanistan as an invader but to clear out the Taliban.
    Getting to the root of the problem it must be understood that the Afghan Taliban want to liberate Afghanistan from American presence, whereas Pakistani Taliban are under no invasionary duress as the case is in Afghanistan. The Pakistani Taliban were a no-one before 2007. Their emergence was more so because of the Lal Masjid military operation which brought about increase in recruitment for revenge against Pakistan Army for its previous operations under Musharraf’s regime. The only way to deal with Pakistani Taliban is to sort out their extremist ranks (foreign fighters like Uzbeks, Arabs) while the local ranks are more there because of tribal pressure and money-incentives.

  • Bungo says:

    Never underestimate the military value of killing the enemy. Victory comes when you deal more death and destruction upon your enemy than he is willing to bear. It’s as simple as that. Anything else is a temporary, negotiated truce. Just ask the Israelis or the Koreans.

  • Zeissa says:

    I was under the impression that the P-stan Talib received boosts from several directions, but that they were primarily a homegrown organization with inspiration from Saudi Arabia – but do go on, you sound like you’re on to something at least.

    Regarding the earlier ‘deluded lie’ comment to Civy, I did not mean that he/you lied, but that he/you were deluded on propaganda lies.

  • Ahmad Tariq says:

    Pakistan-Taliban definitely receive boost from several directions, since the Mehsuds who have been anti-Pakistan primarily because of the Army operations in their area, have been involved in criminal activities. Like extortion, kidnapping, smuggling, narcotics, seizure of mines owned by government. People who have served in their areas say the Mehsuds are a nobody for anyone, and they may just take funds from any foreign entity or domestic entity. The funding for these terrorists are perhaps to a good extent coming from expatriates in the Gulf and we could not rule out their funding from foreign entities (states/terrorist organizations based elsewhere).
    And plus it is famously said that all cars stolen in Pakistan go to the area of the Mehsuds for modification and further smuggling. Hence, as the Mehsuds have gotten virtual freedom since Pakistan’s independence, now they are suffering at the hands of Uzbeks, Arabs and Chechens whom they sheltered and continue to shelter under the Mehsuds’ umbrella.
    As far as their homegrown-ism is concerned, their first foremost opposition is towards Pakistan Army, which is disturbing their way of life of criminal activities in their region plus also as a revenge (which is a part of their culture of Pakhtunkhwa) for killing their tribespeople through intermitten military operations (under U.S. pressure since 2003) and moreover, U.S. drone attacks too.


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