What Ghazni looked like when I was there.
It’s no big surprise to anyone that the situation in Afghanistan has gone from relatively stable, to bad, to worse. Since American forces handed over large chunks of the country to NATO Security forces a while back things have been on a steady decline and the slope of that decline has become very steep here as of late. Initially one could blame the sharply rising number of casualties in country on the sharply rising number of troops in country but that doesn’t explain it all.
Areas that used to be relatively peaceful and stable have not only faced a resurgence of Taliban presence but have been destabilized to the point of near if not total collapse. Some areas that were once securely in the hands of the US and/or their allies are now considered too risky for the average Joe and only safe enough to travel in and through if you’re a professional trigger puller by MOS (Special Ops, Infantry, Mailman, etc) instead of just by default gun users (transportation, PAO’s, Fobbits, etc).
Some say that the resurgence is in response to the larger number of US troops pouring into the area while others are saying that the cause and effect are just the opposite… that the only reason there are more Taliban is because there are more troops. This latter point of view is ludicrous. Diseases don’t become pandemics because you bring in more doctors to stop an epidemic. The big reason for the increase in Taliban activity in Afghanistan is real estate.
The recent full court press on the Taliban in Pakistan is limiting the number of safe havens out of which they can successfully operate in the south and even in areas of the northern border with Afghanistan. The northern part of Pakistan and the southern part of Afghanistan that make up the Pashtun tribal region called Waziristan straddles a porous border made up almost entirely of mountains and fanatics. The pressure in Pakistan is forcing the Taliban (who are mostly Pashtun) north into Southern Afghanistan/Northern Waziristan and the Taliban see no reason to limit themselves to that region. They are between a rock and a hard place with Pakistan to the south and NATO to the north and they not only see themselves as cornered, but cornered at an odd advantage. They no longer have to contend with a US President that not only has no problem with waxing bad guys, but enjoys it but with a US President that is viewed by many as inexperienced and soft on defense. They’re counting on Americans to develop the same distaste for the war in Afghanistan that they developed for the war in Iraq after being were spoon fed a constant diet of politically motivated propaganda, misinformation, and sometimes outright lies by the MSM and the left.
The Rules of Engagement in Afghanistan have been changed to favor the Taliban. Period. Restricting the engagement of tangos in populated areas in favor of a “run away if you can do so safely” policy is not only ludicrously dangerous to US Forces (as well as NATO Forces and Afghani civilians) in practice, it is dangerous in theory to stability in the entire region. By disallowing forces to engage snipers in populated areas while there is the possibility of moving out of the kill zone we have effectively told the Taliban to base themselves in populated areas. As such we will take casualties without being able to return fire at best or, if our troops cannot move out of those areas safely, we will be unleashing hell on civilian areas when we inevitably move in to neutralize the threat. The Taliban are well aware of our RoE and will do their damnedest to use that against us.
The Taliban are coming back and the current strategy to combat that return, in my humble opinion, will simply not work. We need to contain, not eradicate, the Taliban because they simply cannot be exterminated. If the civilized world is a living thing, then the Taliban are the social equivalent of herpes. You can’t get rid of it, but you can treat the malady. Give them Waziristan. Give them Waziristan and make them stay there by a policy of containment backed up by extreme coercion. If they want to play by the rules and stay in their little hell hole they can play by their own brutal, barbarian, uncivilized rules there and we won’t interfere. But if they wander off their playground and start trying to impose their dictatorial, fanatical religious beliefs on others we bomb Waziristan off the map. They cause harm to the US or its allies, we bomb them off the map. They give aid to terrorists that harm us, we bomb them off the map. We leave nothing, and I mean nothing standing. They can either stay on their enclave of fanaticism or become a footnote in a history book. The Taliban is a fatal disease that needs to be quarantined by hook or by crook and I know for a fact that I’m not the only one who thinks this way.
It really is that simple.
So while the hate gets broadcast unchecked through the country, voters are so scared that they don’t vote, violent riots rock Ghazni, Marines get denied indirect fire support when pinned down, and our troops and our allies continue to die in Afghanistan remember this: fixing it really isn’t that hard… but first we have to have the will to win.