Turning to counterinsurgency, I would like to draw your attention to an essay by Lieutenant Colonel Ehsan Mehmood Khan, published in the Small Arms Journal. In this essay Khan compares the strategy of the Taliban to the theories of Von Clausewitz, Mao Tse-tung, T.E. Lawrence, David Galula and Querine Hanlon.
The key points:
- "the tradition of Pashtunwali, the Pashtun Social Code, has been combined with Jihad thereby forming a formidable war ideology. This is serving as the nucleus around which everything else is knit and is thus the Centre of Gravity for Taliban Warfare. The constituents of operational environment may seek variants and may witness dip or rise in magnitude but till such time their ideology remains unbeaten, they may continue to fight."
- "David Galula puts it that the counterinsurgent will not be able to rally the bulk of population so long as the population is convinced that the counterinsurgent the will, the means and the ability to win. This denotes that the population supports the one who will win.25 I think there are three more notions that the population may have to support a given side: who is ours; who will stay; and who is neither ours nor is to stay but supports rather than hurt our interest."
- "What Mr. Henry Kissinger wrote at the end of the Vietnam War is relevant to the situation in Afghanistan today. He noted, “We fought a military war; our opponents fought a political one. We sought physical attrition; our opponents aimed for our psychological exhaustion. In the process we lost sight of one of the cardinal maxims of guerrilla warfare: the guerrilla wins if he does not lose. The conventional army loses if it does not win. The [North Vietnamese] used their armed forces the way a bull-fighter uses his cape – to keep us lunging in areas of marginal political importance.”
"According to a new map of Taliban presence in Afghanistan (Figure-1) issued by the London-based International Council on Security and Development (ICOS) in October 2009, Taliban have now permanent presence in 80% of Afghanistan, up from 72% in November 2008, According to ICOS, another 17% of Afghanistan is seeing ‘substantial’ Taliban activity.2 NATO’s unclassified briefing gives even clearer picture. Taliban have a shadow government in 33 out of 34 provinces of Afghanistan. Figure-2 shows the how Taliban Movement in Afghanistan moved from sway on 11 provinces in 2005 to 33 in 2009.3 In the words of Admiral Michael Mullen, Taliban [are] getting pretty effective at it [governance]. They have set up functional courts in some locations, assess and collect taxes, and even allow people to file formal complaints against local Talib leaders."