Archive for the 'Taliban Massing of Forces' Category



Taliban Massing of Forces Part IV

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 5 months ago

In Taliban Tactics: Massing of Troops, I detailed no less than six instances of Taliban fighters massing forces up to half a Battalion strong.  In More on Taliban Massing of Forces I detailed the seventh and eighth instances of such massing of fighters, and then finally we’ve discussed the ninth instance of this tacticThe Washington Post has given us another instance, mainly focused in RC East.

Scores of Taliban fighters were killed Tuesday evening as they attempted to storm a small U.S. outpost along the Pakistani border and were driven back by American soldiers, according to U.S. military officials in the province.

The insurgents launched the attack by firing rocket-propelled grenades and rifles from the grounds of two Islamic schools near Combat Outpost Margah, in eastern Afghanistan’s volatile Paktika province. The company of American soldiers stationed there fired back as large groups of fighters moved toward the base from a wadi, or valley, to the west, U.S. military officials said.

The fighting lasted less than two hours, ending by about 8:30 p.m. No U.S. troops were killed. A spokesman for the Paktika governor said that 50 to 60 insurgents were killed.

[ ... ]

“If they’re planning a massive attack, they may be able to muster a group of 100 around there,” Maj. Eric Butler, the brigade’s intelligence officer, said in an interview last week. For the Taliban, he said, “usually it ends very, very badly.”

Very badly indeed.  The battles at Wanat and Kamdesh in the Kunar and Nuristan Provinces, respectively, involved tragic and heavy losses compared to most instances of Taliban massing of forces, but even at Wanat the U.S. had a kill ratio of approximately 6:1.

Tim Lynch notes that “Rarely now will somebody shoot at the Marines in southern Helmand, and when they do, it is from so far away that it is hard to notice anybody is even shooting at you.”  The threat now is IEDs, and the Marines are suffering so many casualties that many of them, tragically, have issued standing orders to their Corpsman to let them die if they lose their gonads and are unable to reproduce.

The Taliban don’t fight conventionally – they fight asymmetrically.  In Helmand now after Garmsir in 2008 when the Marines killed more than 400 Taliban fighters, and the hard work of Marines in Now Zad and Sangin, the threat is IEDs.  In RC East it’s interesting that the Taliban see their position as so strong that outnumbering their opponent is still seen as asymmetric warfare, regardless of what the kill ratio actually shows.

Taliban Massing of Forces and OBL Revenge

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 10 months ago

On May 19 The Daily Times reported the following:

Around 100 insurgents attacked an important security checkpoint near Peshawar early Wednesday, sparking a three-hour clash that killed two police officers and 15 militants besides wounding five others, police said.

The attack on the Sangu Mera checkpoint comes amid Taliban threats to avenge the May 2 US raid that killed Osama bin Laden elsewhere in Pakistan’s volatile northwest.

Two constables Liaq Khan and Zahid Shah were killed when terrorists armed with automatic weapons attacked a police checkpost on Wednesday, SSP Operation Ejaz Khan said.

Senior police official Liaquat Ali Khan said the terrorists bore rocket-propelled grenades and other weapons when they attacked the security forces overnight. But eventually the insurgents were pushed back.

In another report, AFP is discussing an engagement in Karachi:

Gunmen armed with rockets and explosives stormed a major Pakistani naval air base, triggering gunbattles that killed five military personnel, three weeks after the US killing of Osama bin Laden.

Around 10 people were wounded and towering flames rose over PNS Mehran in the centre of Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city, where the military and government confirmed that the base was under “terrorist attack”.

An AFP reporter saw swarms of soldiers and navy commando reinforcements pile into the base as smoke rose into the night sky. Over a period of several hours, an AFP photographer heard nine blasts and periodic bursts of gunfire.

A spokesman for the Pakistan Navy said fighting was still continuing more than five hours after the attack began at around 10:45 pm (1745 GMT) on Sunday.

“Fighting is still going on. Four navy and one paramilitary personnel were martyred during the exchange of fire,” navy spokesman Commander Salman Ali told AFP.

“They have destroyed two P-3c Orion aircraft,” he added.

Last June, the United States delivered two P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft to PNS Mehran.

There was no claim of responsibility but Pakistan’s military has long been on the frontline of attacks blamed on the Taliban and other Al-Qaeda-linked militant groups that have killed more than 4,350 people in four years.

The Taliban have recently stepped up threats against Western and Pakistani government targets to avenge the killing of bin Laden by US Navy SEALs in the garrison city of Abbottabad near the capital Islamabad on May 2.

Officials estimated that up to 15 militants crept up to the base on three sides, using the cover of night to approach seemingly undetected through neighbouring civilian residential areas and through trees and foliage.

“The attackers first fired rockets,” Ali earlier told the ARY television station, denying any staff had been taken hostage but conceding that a long-range Orion aircraft had been destroyed.

“The terrorists also used small bombs and now they are firing with sophisticated weapons. They are inside and still resisting,” he added.

But in this last instance, massing of forces?  Hmmm … not so much.  Up to 15 militants.  And several hours later they were still fighting to keep “commando reinforcements” at bay.  Perhaps this last report is more about Pakistani military incompetence than about Taliban massing of forces.

Prior: Taliban Massing of Forces Category

Taliban Massing of Forces Part III

BY Herschel Smith
3 years ago

The Waygal district in Nuristan has been seized by Taliban forces.

The Taliban seized control of a district in eastern Nuristan Province on Tuesday, chasing the governor and the police from the district capital, according to both Afghan officials and a spokesman for the Taliban.

It was the second Taliban success in recent days in the general area of the strategic Pech Valley, which American troops are in the process of withdrawing from and turning over to Afghan authorities.

“The white flag of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is flying over the Want district center, while some policemen of the puppet administration flee toward the provincial capital after slight resistance,” said the Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, in a statement to news organizations circulated by e-mail. He was referring to the district more commonly known as Waygal.

The Nuristan Province police commander, Gen. Shams-ul-Rahman Zahid, confirmed that the police had fled their barracks and district government buildings in town of Waygal, the capital of Waygal district, leaving the Taliban in what he said was temporary control of the district. The district governor, Mulavi Zia-ul-Rahman, was also said to have fled.

“Police forces have tactically withdrawn from the district center early this morning about 5 a.m. following harsh fighting and due to lack of ammunition, and to avoid civilian casualties,” General Zahid said in a telephone interview.

“We are planning a counterattack to retake the district,” he said. “We will reinforce and retake the district soon from the insurgents.”

On Saturday, 40 police recruits had been returning to their homes, also in Waygal district, when they were kidnapped by Taliban insurgents as they crossed through Capa Dara district in the Pech Valley area, which is in Kunar Province close to the Nuristan border.

Analysis & Commentary

It is reported that the Taliban massed forces of up to 300 fighters.  I had previously reported that there have been at least eight instances of massing of forces against coalition troops.

In Taliban Tactics: Massing of Troops, I detailed no less than six instances of Taliban forces massing from 100 to 400 troops for engagements (approximately half-Battalion), including at the fated Battle of Wanat.  The Battle of Kamdesh is a seventh instance of massing of forces, in this case up to 300 troops.

The Germans have experienced yet another example.  “Germany says three of its soldiers were killed and five severely wounded in heavy fighting with Taliban insurgents today in northern Afghanistan.

The German military said the detachment was patrolling near Chahar Dara, southwest of the city of Konduz, when it was attacked by militants.

District government chief Abdul Wahid Omar Khil estimated there were about 200 Taliban fighters involved in the attack.”

This report from Waygal is no less than the ninth report of massing of forces of up to 300 fighters.  It is noteworthy that the insurgents were facing only Afghan National Security Forces and not U.S. troops, and it’s equally noteworthy that U.S. forces at Kamdesh and Wanat were never overrun.  But the tactic remains the same.  Taliban fighters like to fight asymmetrically by overpowering their foe.  They want a ten to one troop ratio or they won’t face down our forces in classical battle – or it would seem in this case, neither will they face down the ANP.

It’s also noteworthy that this is generally in the region of the Pech Valley, something that only The New York Times article mentions.  We are paying a high price for our abandonment of the Pech Valley, as the insurgents have safe haven, human terrain for recruitment, an area for R&R, and safe passage from one region to another.

Prior:

Taliban Massing of Forces category

Abandoning the Pech Valley Part III

Abandoning the Pech Valley Part II

Abandoning the Pech Valley

Korengal Abandoned, Pech River Valley Still Problematic

More on Taliban Massing of Forces

BY Herschel Smith
4 years ago

In Taliban Tactics: Massing of Troops, I detailed no less than six instances of Taliban forces massing from 100 to 400 troops for engagements (approximately half-Battalion), including at the fated Battle of Wanat.  The Battle of Kamdesh is a seventh instance of massing of forces, in this case up to 300 troops.

The Germans have experienced yet another example.

Germany says three of its soldiers were killed and five severely wounded in heavy fighting with Taliban insurgents today in northern Afghanistan.

The German military said the detachment was patrolling near Chahar Dara, southwest of the city of Konduz, when it was attacked by militants.

District government chief Abdul Wahid Omar Khil estimated there were about 200 Taliban fighters involved in the attack.

See also FOXNews and their report.  The Strategy Page has a slightly more detailed account.

The German Army lost another three soldiers on March 26th, when several dozen German troops and Afghan police, as they halted to deal with some roadside bombs, were attacked by over a hundred Taliban. The fighting went on for two hours, mainly because the Taliban had set up their firing positions inside, and on the roofs of, nearby homes. The Taliban know the ROE (Rules of Engagement) all NATO troops must obey, and this means no dropping smart bombs on buildings that might contain civilians. So the Germans had to wait for troop reinforcements to arrive by road.

Whether 100 (Strategy Page) or 200 (Abdul Wahid Omar Khil) fighters, the Taliban are still inefficient and poor shots compared to U.S. fighters.  They are aware that their best hope lies in outnumbering their opponents, and they will use this tactic to their advantage whenever possible.


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