Coalition Has Nullified Taliban’s Spring Offensive, General Says
By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jun. 6, 2007 Coalition forces have the upper hand against Afghan insurgents despite previous fears of a bloody Taliban spring offensive aided by Iranian technology, the deputy director for operations on the Joint Staff said here today.
“I will tell you, I think in fact the offensive is not theirs but ours,” Army Brig. Gen. Perry Wiggins told Pentagon reporters in a news conference.
Coalition troops have been highly active in Afghanistan’s eastern and southern sectors, Wiggins said, and the Taliban’s leadership and fighting force has suffered “serious losses.”
Mullah Dadullah Lang, the Taliban’s top military commander and “functional leader,” was killed May 11 in the Ganstrah district of Helmand province, Wiggins announced during a May 16 operational briefing here.
“Dadullah Lang was responsible for the ethnic cleansing of the Hazaras in Bamyan province when the Taliban was in power. He was the lead proponent of suicide bombings and supervised dozens of Afghan beheadings. He was also behind the recent kidnappings of a Western journalist and French aid worker,” said Wiggins, who described Lang’s death as a “serious setback” for the enemy.
Today, the general expressed concern over insurgents’ increasing use of complex asymmetric warfare tactics, including car and suicide bombings, and improvised explosive device and explosively formed penetrator attacks. EFPs are shaped charges designed to pierce armored vehicles.
“We're taking a look at a move toward a more asymmetric type of targeting or attacks through the use of IEDs,” he said. “And a particular concern with the IEDs is the technology associated with these IEDs.”
Wiggins said military officials believe technology involved in such bombing attacks is being imported from Iran. “We have seen some technology that tends us to believe that it's coming in from Iran. … We know there’s a flow,” he said.
Iran also is exporting technology to insurgents in Iraq, Wiggins said, citing recent statements by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates. “Secretary Gates (talked) about the Iranian technology that seems to be flowing into Iraq. And the fact of the matter is, we need to stem that type of technology,” he said.
In Iraq, attacks involving EFPs are occurring more frequently, Wiggins said.
“EFPs are a concern,” he said. “We have seen a slight increase in that type of technology over the past several months.”
During dialogues with Iranian diplomats, Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, addressed Iran’s problematic exportation of weapons technology, the general said.
“One of the points that he brought up is we need to thwart the influx of this type of weapon systems coming into Iraq,” Wiggins said. “The bottom line is actions speak louder than words with regard to these particular types of things.”