Current Taliban strategy

Strategy Page:

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But the Taliban have a plan for getting rid of the smart bombs, and it depends a lot on foreign journalists. These folks are always looking for an "exciting" story, and nothing is more exciting than "atrocities" committed by NATO or American troops. Defeats by NATO or American troops also plays well with the foreign reporters. So the Taliban endeavor to feed the foreign journalists as many suitable stories as possible. The Taliban understand that the story doesn't have to be true, just plausible. The news cycle is short, and the media proceeds on the assumption that news consumers have no sense of history. If the Taliban can get a story out there, they have succeeded, no matter how much the story is later discredited. Recently, for example, Taliban propagandists got some journalists to run with the story that the Taliban actually controlled most of the country, and were ready to take over. This was absurd, but too good to pass up for headline starved reporters. Atrocity stories move well, as do rumors of NATO troops misbehaving with the locals. The Taliban may be medieval in their social thinking and economics, but they are out in front when it comes to spinning the media.

The "we are doomed" (or disgraced) stories the Western media gobble up, are meant to convince Western government to pull their troops out. To move that process along, the Taliban and their al Qaeda allies are making a major push to kill NATO troops. Normally, this is very hard to do. But suicide bombers have proven more effective, and are now used in larger and larger numbers. This is dangerous for the Taliban, because these suicide bombers tend to kill more Afghan civilians than NATO troops. Thus the importance of having lots of Taliban gunmen out there to keep the Afghan population from getting out of line in their outrage (and reporting the presence of Islamic terrorists). The Taliban believe that most Western nations can be convinced to withdraw their troops if enough negative media and dead troops can be generated. That will mean fewer smart bombs to deal with.

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The Taliban are desperate to get the western forces to pull their punches on the precision guided munitions. One of their favorite tactics is to make bogus claims of civilian casualties are provoke civilian casualties by taking human shields in their operations. The media has been somewhat gullible in this scam, but information officials with the military have been better about pointing out the tactic than they were in Iraq.

The Taliban have had better luck with some of the Brit and Euro "Think Tanks" in pushing the "we are doomed" meme. It is divorced from the reality on the ground where the Taliban have suffered unsustainable casualties for months now.

There human bomb attacks have not been militarily significant, but they have to some degree achieved their PR purpose. Military officials need to do a better job of explaining the PR campaign that animates the human bomb attacks.

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