25 October 2010

Closer Look At Taliban Chain of Command

The LA Times has a great article about a mid-level Taliban commander and how current events are affecting him.

Commander H. is nervous.
He rarely sleeps twice in the same place, and tosses away his cellphones almost as often as he changes houses. He can't stay in close contact with the foot soldiers who report to him. And he wonders, sometimes uneasily, whether his leaders are looking to cut a deal with the people who are trying to kill him.

Midlevel Taliban field operatives such as Commander H., who leads a cell of fighters outside the southern city of Kandahar, are acutely aware that they are being hunted more intensely than ever before: The NATO-led force in Afghanistan says that in the last three months, it has killed or captured hundreds of insurgent commanders and thousands of lower-level fighters.

Increasingly, the Western alliance's effort to find a way out of the deadlocked conflict in Afghanistan centers on a two-track approach: seeking to devastate the Taliban field-command structure while trying to woo the movement's leaders to the bargaining table. But some analysts, officials, diplomats and other observers say this strategy could backfire, perhaps even providing the insurgency with fresh impetus, stronger motivation and more recruits.
They point out that the loose and decentralized nature of the insurgency means that many of those on the battlefield have no real pipeline to the upper echelon. And it is not at all clear that the Taliban fighters on the ground feel it's time to make a deal.

Commander H., for example, insists that his troops are ready to continue the battle, and says that he himself could be readily replaced if he were killed or captured.

He succeeded an older cousin who was killed last year, and said avenging that death and other killings and destruction of property guides his belief that the fight must go on until all foreign troops have left Afghan soil.

By: Brant

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