Taliban Derailed by Dead Commanders
The Taliban’s attempt to re-take Afghanistan has been “stalled” by the killing of several of its key leaders, according to the Telegraph‘s Thomas Harding.
The Taliban’s much-vaunted spring offensive has stalled apparently due to lack of organisation after dozens of middle-ranking commanders were killed by British troops in the past year, according to military sources. The death last week of the key Taliban leader Mullah Dadullah at the hands of American special forces has harmed the Taliban’s morale to the point that local commanders are having to tell their troops to “remain professional” despite the loss.
After suffering more than 1,000 dead in battles with the Parachute Regiment and Royal Marines in the last year, the Taliban retired to regroup and re-equip last winter. A spring offensive was ordered by the Taliban leadership based in Quetta, Pakistan, and was meant to be launched in late March. But a lack of mid-level commanders has meant that there has been little co-ordination to bring about the offensive. “They are getting strategic guidance from Quetta but this is not translating on the ground,” a military source said. “It’s a bit premature to discuss the Taliban as a spent force. I believe that they are struggling but still maintain a capability to carry out attacks on a daily basis. But I would suggest in the long term the Taliban may just peter out.”
Great news if true.
In traditional warfare, even counter-guerrilla warfare, taking out key leaders has always been effective. In its modern incarnation, experts like John Robb argue, it matters much less because guerrilla activity is not coordinated hierarchically but organically, with tiny cells learning from and inspired by movement leaders but independent of them. Certainly, that has seemed to be the case in Iraq, where the killing of the number one this and the number two that has happened so many times that it has quite literally become a joke.