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S. forces were made to operate on ground and targeted operations were planned against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters. There were significant individually planned battles and skirmishes between the U.S. army and Taliban often resulting in heavy losses to both sides. A tactic that Taliban often used in such conditions was the suicide attacks and planting improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that left the soldier carrying vehicles destroyed. The U.S. utilized an Iraqi style counter insurgency operations in the Afghan region that resulted in some strengthening of the conditions.
3.1.3 Power sharing agreements
In order to enhance the effectiveness of the U.S. presence in Afghanistan the U.S. forged agreements with many warring tribes and factions of the Northern Alliance to enhance the unity of these groups that were to be pitched against the Taliban. These agreements were aimed at removing the support base of Taliban and Al-Qaeda from the Afghan society at which the U.S. army did not succeed much as the number of causalities of U.S. soldiers from Afghan soldier attacks has been increasing since last few months.
The insurgent militias are now brought into the main stream through dialogue by the U.S. administration by holding talks at neutral venues. The President in this regards had recently made a High Peace Council that comprised of leading tribesmen of Afghanistan that now opine on the current and future course of section. The Taliban have also displayed signs of agreement in the U.S. led peace process, however the Taliban are resistant and also attack the U.S. convoys simultaneously.
The vagueness of the people that now fight the U.S. is evident from the fact that most of them have even retired from the job task. The aftermath of the U.S. withdrawal could be another Soviet style civil war as that took place in the year 1989. There are strong instances where Taliban have increased the number of attacks on both U.S. And other armed militias operating in confluence with the U.S. army.
3.2 Use theory: Ad-Hoc terrorists
In order to understand the Afghan war and the resulting wave of terrorism that sprung into Afghan and Pakistani territories initiated by the events of 9/11, the 'ad hoc terrorists' theory coined by Paul Pillar helps to understand why the war in Afghanistan even after the eviction of U.S. forces might not end. The theory asserts that although the presence of governmental or institutional support to these terrorists such as Ramzee Youssef and group involved in 9/11, these individuals operated with unaffiliated mobile religious violence (Coll, 2005; p-261).
The theory is also helpful in explaining a paradigm shift in global terrorism shift as the number of individuals that act out on their own loosely connected group leanings are increasing in number in both the Middle East and Central Asian region of Afghanistan. The theory explains that it is the new form of terrorists with which the U.S. armed forces and intelligence agencies are faced with. Despite little assistance from governments and institutions at a macro-level, the financers of these small and loosely operating groups are also individuals and religiously fundamental smaller groups of people.
These groups have tremendous capability of mobility within cities and rural centers and this makes their activities and commutation difficult to track. In the Afghan situation, there are not only Taliban fighting with the U.S. But with other tribes of Afghanistan as well. Taliban are of Pashtun descent whereas the Northern Alliance that was headed by Ahmed Shah Massud is of Uzbek descent. The respective interpretations of Holy Quran by these inter-warring groups are also significantly different from each other. This makes the Afghan conflict to be multi-dimensional rather than America centric only. The only difference, in consistency with the theory of 'ad hoc terrorists', will be that the U.S. will be out of the direct reach of the ad-hoc terrorist but the conflict may continue in the wake of absence of national unity among the Afghan nationals.
3.2.1 War of the flea
Until 2006, 'war of the flea' theory (Giustozzi, 2008) can be used to describe the war style of the Taliban but the later incidents such as the capturing of Kandahar signals that Taliban fighters are being led by more organized leadership as to the popular belief. The foot soldiers might be planning the actual execution of attacks by themselves but the selection of targets is more influenced by a Maoist theory of 'protracted peoples' war'. The Maoist concepts have infiltrated into the Taliban ranks and targeting cities is part of this strategy.
This signifies that after the withdrawal of the U.S. forces, the specific target of the Taliban fighter will be the capturing of the cities. Another theoretical aspect that complicates the end game of Afghanistan is the deployment of 'fourth generation warfare' tactics by the Taliban leadership to mobilize the fighters. The blurring of distribution lines between civilians and soldiers and the use of ordinary civil population to further military advances is also well deployed by the Taliban against the U.S. army. The takeover attempt on Kandahar might also be part of such tactics of fourth generation warfare the Taliban leadership. While these attempts, mostly aiming to psychologically undermine the opponent, were not broadly successful against the U.S. army, the Taliban will have an edge over the local and national army as well as opponent ethnic groups over fighting this warfare in fourth generation warfare style. Thus, it may be unlikely that Taliban lay arms and try to influence the political government on the basis of their population majority. And any effort to hastily execute the process of withdrawal may leave Taliban more confident of running over the whole of Afghanistan after the U.S. withdrawal.
The war in Afghanistan is visibly approaching its end in 2014 with the U.S. having committed that majority of the ISAF troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan. The talks between the U.S. And Taliban have also started mediated by countries such as Germany and other Western countries (Koelbl & Stark, 2013). Although the negotiations seem to head in the right direction specifically after several of the Taliban prisoners were released as part of confidence building measures (CBMs), the aftermath of a possible U.S. withdrawal may not be fully realized by the U.S. And the Western governments. A withdrawal same as that happened after the Soviet expulsion from Afghanistan may complicate the issues for the West. This is because the Taliban fighters have been battle hardened and they have acquired superior war skills with respect to planning and execution.
The Taliban will have little motivation to remain at peace with the ethnic groups that have fought against them in confluence with the U.S. army. The power vacuum in context of military presence may leave the anti-Taliban groups vulnerable and this may aggravate the situation at a later stage. The acquiring of fourth generation warfare skills by the Taliban also put significant risk to post-withdrawal situation in Afghanistan. Ad-hoc terrorist theory, war of the flea theory, and fourth generation warfare theory all are implemented by adhering to closely knit principles on which these three theories are based. Decentralization, increase in role if individual and small groups of terrorists, and an ability to hide, all these factors provide tremendous ability to the Taliban for launching major offensive on their enemies in absence of the ISAF. Therefore, even if an operational government is being left functional by the U.S. In Afghanistan, significant chances are there that Taliban will rely on their military strength to influence government decision regarding conduct of government failing to which the Taliban may resort to military tactics.
The aforementioned factors supported by the theoretical positions of warfare, such as Ad-hoc terrorist theory, war of the flea theory, and fourth generation warfare leave the researcher to assert that war in Afghanistan will be prolong even after the U.S. withdraws from the region. Although this issue may not deter the U.S. from abandoning the plan of withdrawal (as it holds out to be the election manifesto of President Obama to bring the U.S. forces out of Afghanistan), more carefully drafted strategy should be adopted to bring Taliban into the mainframe system and increasing the stake of common people, the ground recruits of Taliban.
Coll, S. (2005). Ghost wars: The secret history of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet invasion to September 10, 2001. Penguin.
Dreyfuss, R. (2005). Devil's game: how the United States helped unleash fundamentalist Islam. Metropolitan Books.
Giustozzi, a. (2008). Koran, Kalashnikov, and laptop: the neo-Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan. Columbia University Press.
Jones, a. (2013, Jan). Only Three Choices for Afghan Endgame: Compromise, Conflict, or Collapse: Counting down to 2014. TomDispatch.com. Retrieved from: [http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/01/28-3]
Koelbl, S. & Stark, H. (2013, March). Cautious Optimism: Germany Mediates Secret U.S.-Taliban Talks. Spiegel Online International. Retrieved from: [http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/cautious-optimism-germany-mediates-secret-us-taliban-talks-a-764323.html][continue]
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