The HVT Campaign and New Breed of Taliban Commanders

BY Herschel Smith
5 years, 9 months ago

From The Telegraph:

The special forces onslaught hailed by Nato as helping turn the momentum against the Taliban was in fact making peace more remote he claimed.

Mullah Abdul Hakim Mujahid, a deputy leader of Hamid Karzai’s peace council tasked with finding a political settlement, said the attempt to wipe out the Taliban hierarchy was “in vain”.

The comments by the former Taliban ambassador to the United Nations contradict buoyant Nato commanders who have boasted the raids by troops including the SAS have rattled the insurgency.

By driving Taliban from their heartlands with Barack Obama’s surge reinforcements, while targeting the command, Nato believes it can drive insurgents to the negotiating table.

Mullah Mujahid however said an older more pragmatic generation of Taliban leaders was being replaced by zealots opposed to any reconciliation.

He said: “Any older commanders that have been killed, the fanatical ones have come in their place.

“In that way we are losing a lot of politically-minded Taliban. The new ones have a more religious mentality. They are only fighters.” Mullah Abdul Qayum Zakir, a hardliner and former Guantánamo Bay prisoner who rose to become deputy leader this year, typified the new breed he said.

While regular readers know all about my lack of advocacy for the HVT campaign, I don’t want to read too much into this report.  Mujahid’s account isn’t reason enough to abandon the HVT campaign if it’s working.  My claim isn’t (and has never been) that we are replacing bad actors with worse actors, or that the SOF operators aren’t highly qualified and useful warriors, or that it wouldn’t be a good thing to have more Taliban commanders dead.  My claim has heretofore been that it is a mostly ineffective strategy and misuse of highly skilled operators who should be matrixed to infantry Battalions (as in the Marine Corps, i.e., Force Recon and Scout Sniper).

Nor have I been a proponent of the ridiculous reconciliation program.  There is absolutely no point of similarity between the Sons of Iraq program – implemented when the Iraqi insurgents were losing badly – and the supposed Taliban reconciliation program.

However, there is an interesting revelation that comports with a theme I have been following, that is, the increased religious radicalization of the Afghan Taliban given the protracted nature of the campaign and the prolonged exposure to foreign (Arabic) religious influences.  The longer this thing draws out, the more we are facing (what was once) a national insurgency that has now become a transnational insurgency.



  • davod

    “…the increased religious radicalization of the Afghan Taliban given the protracted nature of the campaign and the prolonged exposure to foreign (Arabic) religious influences.”

    As I recall the Taliban was formed from orphans from Pakistani Madrassas. Madrassas staffed by Saudi Imans teaching Wahabi Islam.

  • http://www.examiner.com/afghanistan-headlines-in-national/michael-hughes Michael Hughes

    Davod:

    It is true that the Taliban was formed by orphans from Pakistani Madrassas, But these maddrassas were not staffed with Saudi Imams but were staffed with semi-literate local mullahs who combined Deobandi, Wahhabist and tribal traditions to concoct the Taliban’s own unique brand of Islam. But the Saudis were able to Wahhabistize (totally NOT a word) effectively during the Soviet occupation (matched by U.S. funds knowingly by William Casey, unknowingly to the rest of us rooting on the freedom fighters). Hence, Mr. Smith is implying that the U.S. occupation has provided similar conditions for Saudis to exploit (who are still even DIRECTLY funding Haqqani network and other groups according to WikiLeaks cables).

  • john

    today’s problems are caused by yesterday’s solutions. Better start looking more than one step/move ahead at a time.

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You are currently reading "The HVT Campaign and New Breed of Taliban Commanders", entry #5851 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Afghanistan,High Value Targets,Jihadists,Taliban and was published December 8th, 2010 by Herschel Smith.

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