Special Ops wearing down Taliban

Ravage

running up that hill
Member
Joined
Jan 3, 2007
Messages
3,865
Location
in Wonderland, with my Alice
http://www.thespectrum.com/article/20101217/OPINION/12170355

"The shift has started to take effect," said General James Cartwright, in that understated Pentagonese that obscures what's actually happening. Cartwright, currently vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, addressed reporters last week on the fight in Afghanistan.



"(Our) counterinsurgency strategy is balanced by a counterterrorism strategy," he said. "Now we need to reduce (Taliban) lines of communication and reduce that flow," he said. "Counterinsurgency is starting to shift to have an element of counterterrorism larger than we thought (we'd) need."
He's referring to the stepped-up tempo of Special Operations Forces in Afghanistan, which includes Special Forces, Delta, Navy SEALs, Rangers, the British SAS and other elite units. For whatever reason, the results of SOF "counterterrorism" efforts have been getting quite a bit of media play lately. For example, coalition officials recently disclosed to the Long War Journal that from June to December 2010, SOF troops executed about 7,100 raids. In those operations, more than 4,100 Taliban fighters were captured and more than 2,000 killed. More than 600 of those were insurgent leaders, those leading Taliban cells and coordinating attacks. In a similar release, officials told a reporter for Brit newspaper The Sun that 3,200 Taliban had been taken out in just 90 days, with 387 being leaders.
Assuming these numbers are relatively accurate, some back-of-the-napkin calculations reveal the following stats:

¥ Crank it up. Those 7,100 missions in six months works out to more than 1,100 a month and almost 40 raids a night. That's a lot of door kicking. But also, think of all the supporting efforts that go into that. That level of activity represents a ton of helicopter, logistics, comms and intel support.

¥ Roll 'em up. The 180-day and 90-day tallies of Taliban captured or killed in the above sources averages to between 33 and 35 insurgents removed from the battlefield each day. Yes, of those captured, some are released through the sieve of Afghanistan's judicial system, but many of them stay for awhile, leave the insurgency or give up important intel.


¥ Put 'em down. Of course dead insurgents don't come back. Two thousand Taliban fighters killed in 180 days is about 11 per day. Sure, others take their place, but attrition exacts its toll on an insurgent force. Experience suffers. Morale decreases. Desertions increase.



¥ Wear 'em out. The figures above translate into three to five Taliban leaders killed or captured daily. The big target of the SOF raids is the mid-level Taliban leadership. As we found out in Iraq, when you keep taking out the middle layers, an insurgent/terrorist organization breaks down. Another recent general officer statement is telling. "Every 24 hours on average we're killing three to five mid-level (Taliban) leaders," said General John Nicholson. "It's lowered the average age of enemy leadership because they're getting killed so quickly. It's severely disrupting their command and control."
One more detail. These numbers only reflect the reported results of Special Ops missions. Add in what conventional U.S. Army, Marine, coalition and Afghan units are doing and you start to see the kind of pressure being put on the Taliban.
Tad Trueblood has more than 20 years experience in the U.S. Air Force and national security community. He lives in Santa Clara.


One more detail. These numbers only reflect the reported results of Special Ops missions. Add in what conventional U.S. Army, Marine, coalition and Afghan units are doing and you start to see the kind of pressure being put on the Taliban.
Tad Trueblood has more than 20 years experience in the U.S. Air Force and national security community. He lives in Santa Clara.
 

SpitfireV

Strike first, strike hard, no mercy!
Member
Joined
Dec 15, 2006
Messages
5,268
Location
New Zealand
I was reading an article in Newsweek I think it was, they were talking about how the Talib are experiencing PTSD and it's difficult to treat them.

Oh no.
 

pardus

Verified Military
Joined
Sep 7, 2006
Messages
10,171
Put 'em down. Of course dead insurgents don't come back. Two thousand Taliban fighters killed in 180 days is about 11 per day. Sure, others take their place, but attrition exacts its toll on an insurgent force. Experience suffers. Morale decreases. Desertions increase.

Although this seems fine, remember that those 2,000 have parents and brothers and cousins and uncles and nephews which equates to about 50 new enemies per insurgent killed (pulled that number out of my arse but its probably not far off).

Killing bad guys is good, turning them is excellent, remember that.
 

Marauder06

Intel Enabler
Verified SOF
Joined
Sep 9, 2006
Messages
11,193
Location
CONUS
Nine years into the war and we're still killing the enemy in those kinds of numbers. Either our math is off or their ability to reconstitute forces is astonishing. I tend to believe the latter is true.

Until and unless we're able to root out the sanctuaries for the Taliban, AQ, and HQN inside Pakistan, this war will never be over on our terms.
 

surgicalcric

Special Forces
Verified SOF
Joined
Nov 3, 2006
Messages
1,411
Location
Here and there
ASSHAT who wrote the article said:
...Put 'em down. Of course dead insurgents don't come back. Two thousand Taliban fighters killed in 180 days is about 11 per day. Sure, others take their place, but attrition exacts its toll on an insurgent force. Experience suffers. Morale decreases. Desertions increase.

Very poor metric in COIN.

Again attrition will not win this war. They can and have been replacing their numbers at a higher rate than we can kill them.

M06 said:
...Either our math is off or their ability to reconstitute forces is astonishing.

The math is right Sir.

Its the ability of people to understand how insurgent warfare works that is the issue. ;)

Crip
 

Scotth

Verified Military
Joined
Nov 8, 2007
Messages
1,496
Location
Minneapolis, MN
Its the ability of people to understand how insurgent warfare works that is the issue. ;)

Crip

I'm reminded about the movie We were Soldiers. If you have the DVD and check out the extra scenes they have a scene were the Ltc Moore is being debriefed by McNamara and Westmoreland. They were so happy about the body count they thought they could win the war through attrition. Moore just sat there with the understanding that our leadership had no idea of who we were fighting.
 

surgicalcric

Special Forces
Verified SOF
Joined
Nov 3, 2006
Messages
1,411
Location
Here and there
...They were so happy about the body count they thought they could win the war through attrition. Moore just sat there with the understanding that our leadership had no idea of who we were fighting.

That reminds me about a conversation between Col Harry Summers and his North Vietnamese counterpart in 1975...

Summers said, "You know, you never defeated us on the battlefield." Tu replied, in a phrase that perfectly captured the American misunderstanding of the Vietnam War, "That may be so, but it is also irrelevant."
 

lockNload

Unverified
Joined
Mar 5, 2007
Messages
131
Location
USA
Although this seems fine, remember that those 2,000 have parents and brothers and cousins and uncles and nephews which equates to about 50 new enemies per insurgent killed (pulled that number out of my arse but its probably not far off).

While it may be factually true that the Taliban can replace fighters at a high rate, I've always had a problem with statements like that. If that type of reasoning was true then wars would never end. One could argue that we killed so many Germans and Japanese in WWII that their children would hate us and keep fighting us but that war obviously ended, like so many others. Not only that but in less than 50 years both countries have become allies of ours and there is not a sentiment of hate towards each other among the populace.
 
J

JJ sloan

Guest
Although this seems fine, remember that those 2,000 have parents and brothers and cousins and uncles and nephews which equates to about 50 new enemies per insurgent killed (pulled that number out of my arse but its probably not far off).

Killing bad guys is good, turning them is excellent, remember that.

Fart noises...

This is what alot of people do not understand about COIN. In this fight, we don't really need to give a shit about the families and friends of insurgents. They are already against us, it is not an issue.
What we need to care about is the populace in the areas that are being used as safehavens for shit heads. The Afghan populace needs to see us (along with Afghan Partner Units) crushing the enemy and driving them away from their villages. The Afghan people will never trust anyone other than the Taliban if we do not legitimize the security forces and the aid of the U.S. Government. This is how COIN works. Provide saftey, security and legitimacy for the populace. In order to do this we must utilize a strong counterterrorism strategy, which is what our commanders are doing presently. Killing is very much a part of COIN and must continue until the Afghan people have confidence enough not to support the Taliban out of neccessity.

As for the original report, those numbers are grossly overstated. Success is clear in recent months, but this report is ridiculous.
 

Marauder06

Intel Enabler
Verified SOF
Joined
Sep 9, 2006
Messages
11,193
Location
CONUS
While it may be factually true that the Taliban can replace fighters at a high rate, I've always had a problem with statements like that. If that type of reasoning was true then wars would never end. One could argue that we killed so many Germans and Japanese in WWII that their children would hate us and keep fighting us but that war obviously ended, like so many others. Not only that but in less than 50 years both countries have become allies of ours and there is not a sentiment of hate towards each other among the populace.


I think the reason we won those wars- and haven't won one against a country of reasonable size since- is that both countries were utterly crushed. They were subjected to years of brutal warfare that specifically targeted citizens, and more importantly they had no safe sanctuary where we could not or would not attack them. The people for the most part were fatigued by fighting that brutal and real to them, not the sterilized version of warfare that some would have us wage now. This is an observation only and not advocacy for WWII-style tactics.

The war in Afghanistan would look much different if our enemies didn't have sanctuary in Pakistan.
 

SpitfireV

Strike first, strike hard, no mercy!
Member
Joined
Dec 15, 2006
Messages
5,268
Location
New Zealand
One thing to consider is that the Germans and Japanese didn't have a similar concept to Pashtunwali, where they would avenge any death in the family.
 

pardus

Verified Military
Joined
Sep 7, 2006
Messages
10,171
Dude if you're trying to say I don't know COIN you are way off the mark my friend.

You either misinterpreted my post or took it as my statement on COIN, please don't make that mistake.

Fart noises...

This is what alot of people do not understand about COIN. In this fight, we don't really need to give a shit about the families and friends of insurgents. They are already against us, it is not an issue.
What we need to care about is the populace in the areas that are being used as safehavens for shit heads. The Afghan populace needs to see us (along with Afghan Partner Units) crushing the enemy and driving them away from their villages. The Afghan people will never trust anyone other than the Taliban if we do not legitimize the security forces and the aid of the U.S. Government. This is how COIN works. Provide saftey, security and legitimacy for the populace. In order to do this we must utilize a strong counterterrorism strategy, which is what our commanders are doing presently. Killing is very much a part of COIN and must continue until the Afghan people have confidence enough not to support the Taliban out of neccessity.

As for the original report, those numbers are grossly overstated. Success is clear in recent months, but this report is ridiculous.
 
J

JJ sloan

Guest
Dude if you're trying to say I don't know COIN you are way off the mark my friend.

You either misinterpreted my post or took it as my statement on COIN, please don't make that mistake.

I have read many of your thoughts on COIN and most are on point (in my humble opinion). This thought, on the other hand, is not. I sent you PM, but since you decided to post on the open thread, I thought I would reciprocate. No hard feelings.
 

pardus

Verified Military
Joined
Sep 7, 2006
Messages
10,171
No hard feelings at all.

This is not my thought, it is one of the tenets of COIN.
I have read FM 3-24 and didn't see it mentioned there which I find curious.
Even a cursory look into past COIN campaigns will show you ample evidence of this.

I will point you to the campaign in Dhofar in the 70's and the bush war in Rhodesia.

Your other points about securing the populace and separating them from the insurgents is of course correct, as is killing the enemy but that does not disregard what I stated earlier.

Intelligence is more valuable than a good body count and the best intelligence comes from the horses mouth.


I have read many of your thoughts on COIN and most are on point (in my humble opinion). This thought, on the other hand, is not. I sent you PM, but since you decided to post on the open thread, I thought I would reciprocate. No hard feelings.
 

Etype

Special Forces
Verified SOF
Joined
Sep 18, 2010
Messages
2,187
Until and unless we're able to root out the sanctuaries for the Taliban, AQ, and HQN inside Pakistan, this war will never be over on our terms.
We're fighting (on a much lower, less dangerous scale) our father's war all over again. This genreartion's own Vietnam complete with safe havens, rules of engagements, and Jane Fondas.
 
Top