Decapitation strike part of US strategy against Taliban

NY Times:

When President Obama announced his new war plan for Afghanistan last year, the centerpiece of the strategy — and a big part of the rationale for sending 30,000 additional troops — was to safeguard the Afghan people, provide them with a competent government and win their allegiance.

Eight months later, that counterinsurgency strategy has shown little success, as demonstrated by the flagging military and civilian operations in Marja and Kandahar and the spread of Taliban influence in other areas of the country.

Instead, what has turned out to work well is an approach American officials have talked much less about: counterterrorism, military-speak for the targeted killings of insurgents from Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Faced with that reality, and the pressure of a self-imposed deadline to begin withdrawing troops by July 2011, the Obama administration is starting to count more heavily on the strategy of hunting down insurgents. The shift could change the nature of the war and potentially, in the view of some officials, hasten a political settlement with the Taliban.

Based on the American military experience in Iraq as well as Afghanistan, it is not clear that killing enemy fighters is sufficient by itself to cripple an insurgency. Still, commando raids over the last five months have taken more than 130 significant insurgents out of action, while interrogations of captured fighters have led to a fuller picture of the enemy, according to administration officials and diplomats.

American intelligence reporting has recently revealed growing examples of Taliban fighters who are fearful of moving into higher-level command positions because of these lethal operations, according to a senior American military officer who follows Afghanistan closely.

...
I think the decapitation strikes have always been part of the counterinsurgency strategy. We did the same thing in Iraq in tacking out the al Qaeda belts around Baghdad. I disagree with the suggestion that it is now time to talk to the Taliban.

We first have to persuade them that their cause is hopeless. That want happen if we keep begging them to negotiate. Killing their leadership will effect their command and control making their fighters less effective. As we get into the counterinsurgency mode we will still be killing the Taliban that try to attack the people. When we get to the point where the enemy has lost control of the people and its leadership perhaps they will then be ready to quit.

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