Heavy Taliban Losses Affect Recruiting, Possibly Tactics, General Says
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 26, 2005 Taliban members who face off against coalition forces or the Afghan National Army are facing heavy losses, so they've resorted to recruiting young teens to join the fight, the Joint Staff's operations director told Pentagon reporters today.
Marine Lt. Gen. James Conway spoke following a July 25 incident that involved heavy fighting in a small village west of Deh Rawod in Afghanistan's Oruzgan province. The incident, which left one U.S. soldier and an Afghan National Army soldier dead, took a considerable toll on the enemy, the general said. Some press reports claim as many as 50 insurgents were killed, he said.
"My observation, tracking this day in and day out, is that virtually every time the Taliban come up against our regular forces or those of the Afghan National Army, they are losing pretty badly," Conway told reporters.
These continual losses are likely to affect the way these enemy forces operate, he said.
"What we suspect, over time, is that they are going to be driven to the standoff tactics that we see being employed in Iraq," Conway said, "because they can't sustain those kinds of losses and continue to remain viable."
The coalition has received reports that the Taliban is attempting to recruit 14- to 16-year-olds to their cause because "older and wiser" Afghans simply are "not buying into their rhetoric," Conway said.
Army Brig. Gen. Jack Sterling, deputy commanding general for Combined Joint Task force76, expressed condolences over the U.S. servicemember killed during the Deh Rawod incident in a July 25 Combined Forces Command Afghanistan news release.
"Our brave servicemember died while fighting alongside Afghan forces to eliminate the threat of terrorism to the world and to bring a brighter future of Afghanistan," Sterling said. "This tragic loss strengthens our resolve to further the advance of a democratic Afghanistan."