Taliban Suffer Reversals, NATO Official Says
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
KABUL, Afghanistan, Aug. 20, 2012 The Taliban have suffered a series of reversals during the current fighting season in Afghanistan, a senior NATO intelligence official said here today.
The official, speaking on background, told reporters the insurgents have had three goals since the end of last winter when the fighting season began. The first was to regain territory, especially in the south – the group’s birthplace and traditional stronghold.
The second was to undermine the Afghan government, he said, and the third goal was to disrupt the growth of the Afghan national security forces.
“They did not achieve any of their goals this year,” the official said, noting that Taliban leaders complain about a lack of funds and about the ability of the Afghan national security forces to lock down the major urban areas in the country.
And they are losing the support of the people. In just one example, in Andar, the Taliban closed the schools, which had been open to boys and girls. Tribal leaders and other elders went to the local Taliban commander to demand they be reopened for everyone. The Taliban leader refused, and he gave the local men 30 minutes to leave before he threatened to start shooting. “And he did,” the official said.
The local people rose up and threw the Taliban out of the village, the official said.
Still, the Taliban remain a problem. There are between 17,000 and 22,000 Taliban in Afghanistan, and while urban areas are fairly safe, rural areas remain susceptible to the group, the official said.
One answer to this is the Afghan Local Police. They know the area, know the people and can quickly identify threats to the community. Taliban leaders have sent orders to followers in Afghanistan to go after the local police whenever they can, the official said.
Another blow to the Taliban was the signing of the strategic partnership agreement between NATO and Afghanistan earlier this year. “The Taliban told people they could wait us out,” the official said. “After all, NATO leaves at the end of 2014.”
The agreement changes NATO’s mission here, the official said, but it indicates to all the support the alliance will maintain in the country for at least 10 years beyond 2014.