Irregular Warfare Causing the Coalition to Rethink its Entire Approach in Afghanistan


Paul Rogers
Oil Price
July 13, 2010

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t
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The ability of Iran’s military to learn from experience and become adept in irregular warfare echoes that of insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan. It also presents the United States with hard choices.

The corrosion of the British military effort in Afghanistan continues with the decision, announced on 6 July 2010, to withdraw the 1,400 troops from the Sangin district of Helmand province by the end of the year. The capacity of the Taliban’s sustained irregular warfare to inflict repeated damage on British forces (of which over one hundred have died there) is an important part of the wider story here.

But the predicament is shared across the national contingents of Nato/International Security Assistance Forces (Isaf) forces. It is evident in the difficulties faced by US forces around Marjah in the aftermath of Operation Moshtarak and the delay in launching the much larger planned operation in and around Kandahar (see Dan Murphy, “Why Kandahar locals turn to Taliban”, Christian Science Monitor, 6 July 2010). Large-scale conventional armies are finding it increasingly tough to subdue non-conventional opponents.

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