[R-G] Fw: Taliban and U.S. Military Strategy
pieinsky at igc.org
Wed Oct 17 13:21:19 MDT 2001
Stratfor - Bush Faces an Enemy with Options
Via NY Transfer News * All the News That Doesn't Fit
"This war is different. It doesn't quite want to gel on the American
side." -- Actual Quote from Stratfor. We kid you not.
Even the hawkish Stratfor boys agree: Dim Son has really screwed up.
All the following boils down to the following, though Stratfor is
much too polite in their strategy & tactics ivory-tower-speak to say
so quite this way: Dim Son and his henchmen got suckered in by
Taliban and their own testosterone.
- Unlike in Iraq and Kosovo, where the victims had no choices, guess
what? The Taliban does.
- The "Northern Alliance" is loathed in the region and not likely to
very much. The US can't exactly trust them, either, or figure out
- The US is great at raining down death from B2 bombers, but has few
friends in the regions, and hence few resources in terms of providing
"close air support." That means the loathesome Northern Alliance will
either require GROUND TROOPS ... Yankee mothers' sons, and lots of
them -- or they won't move, or if they do move without close air
support they'll commit suicide. The one thing that the Pentagon wants
is to avoid US casualties. The US military is not prepared to fight a
real war, they only do "turkey shoots."
- It's getting cold. The Taliban can wait for spring. The Taliban can
launch attacks on the US Homefront. Meanwhile US troops -- some from
the sunny shores of Cuba, where they've been occupation forces at
Guantanamo-- will be freezing their asses off on the border of
- The only hope for the Pentagon may be a distracting slaughter
Iraq again. But then the Taliban terrorists can strike the Heartland,
and maybe force the US hand -- they'll have to take over lots of
territory belonging to nominal US allies, from which to launch a Real
Man's Real War. Result: many more enemies, many body bags for Main
Conclusion: The US has fucked itself. The half-wit illegally
occupying the White House and his not-too-swift handlers have in one
month ruined the economy, created a no-win military situation,
panicked the population at home, tied the entire bureaucracy into
knots of HazMat and security procedures, and whipped up a flag-mania
frenzy for revenge. They've got a nifty police state set up here at
home, but it won't do them much good. Even if they can stage a
military victory with their captive mainstream media, the real world
is out there, on the Internet.
And there's no sign of the outlaw gettn' smoked of his hole by the
posse, thar, boy. So whatcha gonna do, Sheriff Bush... before you get
yo' white ass lynched?
Stratfor 1900 GMT, 011014
The Difficulties of Firming Up Strategy in Afghanistan
Over time, wars tend to take on a definable shape. Attack leads to
shock; shock leads to plans. Plans are implemented. Implementation
encounters frictions, and the enemy reshapes his own strategy in
response. The war begins to coalesce into a recognizable form.
This war is different. It doesn't quite want to gel on the American
side. The reason for this is that more than any other recent war, the
geopolitical dimension keeps destabilizing the military dimension. To
be more precise, the politics are so complex and uncertain that the
United States cannot create a stable platform for military planning.
The United States has made its first response to the events of Sept.
11. The response was highly predictable, drawn from the core of
American strategic doctrine. The response began with air attacks,
designed to achieve command of the air so that other operations could
take place unhindered. Then the attacks will move toward attacking
the command and control facilities of the enemy. Finally, they turn
to attacks on the enemy's ground forces.
The first phase was relatively short and effortless, given the
Taliban's air defense capabilities. The second phase, now occurring,
is more difficult, for the same reason that the first phase was
relatively easy. The relative underdevelopment of Afghan
infrastructure makes it difficult to degrade Afghan command and
control capabilities. Apart from being hard to hit, the targets tend
to recover fairly quickly. This has forced the United States to
launch anti-army operations in parallel with counter-command and
In general, this is not a critical problem, but it does point out a
peculiarity of this campaign. During both Desert Storm and Kosovo, a
large part of the air campaign was carried out by ground-based
tactical air power provided by the Air Force. Because of basing
issues, that is not the case in this war. The Air Force's
contribution is strategic air capabilities -- its bomber force --
flying extended missions from as far away as the United States.
Tactical air power is being provided by the U.S. Navy, whose carriers
are in the Arabian Sea.
The lack of Air Force tactical air limits the intensity of the
attacks. The tempo of operations are limited by the number of sorties
that can be flown at the distances involved, as well as by the
relatively low number of strike aircraft that carriers can launch.
Now, on a certain level, the effort produced is commensurate with the
target set involved. The job is getting done. But the level of effort
may not be commensurate with what is required in the next phase of
The Northern Alliance is being primed for an assault on Kabul. It is
not clear when or even if they will launch that offensive. There are
many who would be very unhappy to see the Northern Alliance take
Kabul. That includes the Pakistanis, but it also involves many Afghan
elements that the United States is trying to draw into an
anti-Taliban coalition. Moreover, it is not clear that the Northern
Alliance, by itself, would be able to beat the Taliban. Certainly,
they have not done particularly well in offensive operations in
recent years. If the Northern Alliance was slaughtered on the way to
Kabul, its leadership would lose its following. The leaders might not
be particularly eager to take that chance.
Moreover, if an attack comes, the United States will be hard-pressed
to provide the kind of close air support that the Northern Alliance
might require. The strategic bombers can do an excellent job of
bombing ground forces, but they are not particularly useful for close
air support missions
-- which require extremely rapid response, relatively small amounts
of munitions and extreme precision. The Navy is a long way from the
northern battlefield, and tactical mission requirements can dwarf the
number of aircraft available. Even if Air Force aircraft are based in
Oman, the distances involved make extended patrolling over a land
Therefore, the United States has two choices. Assuming as STRATFOR
-- does -- that Pakistan is not a basing option for large numbers of
aircraft, the United States can ask to build up a tactical air force
in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, which would be a logistical nightmare,
or it could ask the Russians to provide air support. The Russians
might be willing, but the strategic price for the United States would
be high. Higher still would be the political price inside
Afghanistan, where Russian air power is not remembered fondly.
Building a national anti-Taliban coalition around Russian air power
is not going to work.
That means the Northern Alliance will have to attack without tactical
close air support, but with strategic bombardment. The Taliban will
be hurt and hurt badly by U.S. cluster bombs, but when the close-in
fighting starts the Northern Alliance will be on its own, with
whatever armor and artillery the Russians are able to provide.
All of this has slowed up the attack by the Northern Alliance. They
are not sure they want to do it -- and if they do, they probably need
more logistical support from the Russians than received to date. For
political reasons, the United States is not sure it can afford to
have the Northern Alliance be the ones to eliminate the Taliban and
is therefore busy making the case to Afghans and Pakistanis alike
that a victory in Kabul for the Northern Alliance would not mean a
government of Afghanistan by the Northern Alliance. All of this is
taking place as winter and Ramadan draw close.
The United States is hoping that the air campaign alone will break
the back of the Taliban. The first hope is that the rest of the
country, appalled at the air war, will hold the Taliban responsible
for it and move from sullen submission to active hostility. The
second hope is that the air campaign will split the Taliban itself.
There is a certain logic to this hope. The Taliban fought very hard
to take power, and its leadership enjoys holding power. If the
leadership were to decide that they were in a hopeless position in
the long run, some or many of them might decide that overthrowing
Mullah Mohammed Omar and repudiating his policies is the best way to
preserve their own position.
That hope in Washington has become a driving force in the air
campaign. Unlike Desert Storm, in which the air campaign was the
preface for a carefully planned ground offensive, there is no ground
offensive in the offing here, unless you count the Northern Alliance.
The air campaign therefore has a direct political purpose -- to break
the Taliban now, before winter sets in. Failing that, it is meant to
lay the groundwork for intense political activity among various
Afghan tribes over the winter with an eye toward a spring offensive.
The Taliban understands this. Right now, it is occupying the major
cities and other clearly defined bases. It is being pounded by U.S.
air power. It has two options.
First, Taliban leaders can decide to send non-combatants across the
border to Pakistan and disperse its forces in the countryside, immune
from strategic air power. It would leave a covering force in and in
front of Kabul to raise the price of an attack by the Northern
Alliance, but the bulk of its forces would be saved and ready to
fight in the spring.
The second, parallel option is to stage strategic attacks in the
United States. The Taliban understands that the more extreme the
American anger, the more frustrated the United States will be with
questionable allies like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Just as the
United States wants to create an anti-Taliban coalition inside of
Afghanistan, the Taliban wants to create an anti-American coalition
outside of Afghanistan. For this, it needs American help. It needs
the United States to force its aircraft and troops into Pakistan and
to create a crisis with Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries. That
isn't happening at the moment.
It follows, therefore, that a combined strategy of dispersing Taliban
troops, combined with another round of attacks in the United States,
might force Washington to overextend its position and create the
political conditions the Taliban badly needs. Thus, the current
movements we see inside of Afghanistan may be part of a Taliban plan,
and the current FBI warnings of imminent danger of attack might be
serious indeed. The Taliban has every reason to stage an attack, and
Thus, two factors keep the United States from creating a stable
military plan. One is the incredible complexity of the reality on the
ground. The second is that the United States is dealing with an enemy
that has options. Unlike the Serbs or the Iraqis, who were in the
position of hold or capitulate, the Taliban has a more nuanced set of
options available. The air attacks are designed to break the Taliban
before they can implement new plans. If that doesn't work, the
Taliban can create an even more complex situation for the United
States than ever before.
* The Activist *
http://activist.cjb.net * http://get.to/activist
This is not about the world that we inherited from our forefathers,
It is about the world we have borrowed from our children !!
More information about the Rad-Green