War on Terrorism

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Officials Note Low Insurgent Morale in Afghanistan

From an International Security Assistance Force News Release

KABUL, Afghanistan, Aug. 25, 2010 - Intelligence reports indicate some pockets of low insurgent morale, with some insurgent fighters reluctant to keep fighting and some refusing to assume district commands when commanders are captured or killed, International Security Assistance Force officials in Afghanistan said today.

In a written statement, officials said the low morale among enemy fighters and insurgent leaders can be linked to successful security operations by Afghan and ISAF forces.

Coalition and Afghan forces conducted more than 2,800 counterterrorist operations over the past 90 days, the statement said, killing or capturing more than 365 insurgent leaders and 2,386 fighters. These counter-insurgency successes have also led to a growing sense of distrust among insurgent fighters, heightened fear of spies in their midst and increased suspicion among rival tribes, officials said.

"While the coalition strength and capability of the [Afghan forces] are on the rise, we are seeing evidence of low insurgent morale, which is affecting their capability across the country," said German Brig. Gen. Josef Blotz, an ISAF spokesman. "The coalition will continue to neutralize insurgents and eliminate their safe havens, expanding areas that are secure enough for improved governance and development."

The ISAF statement cited the Taliban commander in Helmand province's Marja district as an example, noting that he openly acknowledged to his fellow insurgents that the Taliban are losing Marja and that their chances of winning are poor.

ISAF officials said intelligence reports indicate the Taliban commander based his assessment on battlefield losses -- insurgents killed or captured by the coalition forces -- and increasing resentment of the insurgent methods by average Afghans.

"The increases in troop strength and continued growth in capability allowed coalition forces to conduct 83 percent more kinetic operations in July 2010 than we initiated in July 2009," Blotz said. "We are intensifying our campaign in areas previously held by the insurgents, including the central Helmand River valley, in and around Kandahar City, and in the vicinity of Baghlan in northern Afghanistan."

The troop increases to ISAF are nearly complete, with about 90 percent of the 40,000 additional ISAF servicemembers already in theater. The Afghan army already has achieved the October 2010 strength goal of 134,000 soldiers, and recruiting totals for the national police are ahead of schedule, with more than 104,000 police officers serving in uniform, officials said.

The security ring in Kandahar City continues to strengthen, and operations have begun in the Arghandab district of northwestern Kandahar, a traditional Taliban stronghold and source of insurgent strength in the region, the ISAF statement said. The clear-and-hold operation known as Amaaliat Motahed Kardan Arghandab -- "Unity Arghandab" -- supports the ongoing Hamkari operation in Kandahar by denying the insurgents safe haven in the province, officials added.

Another operation designed to deny insurgent freedom of maneuver was Task Force Helmand's recent air assault into the last remaining insurgent stronghold in Nad-e Ali in Helmand province. Also in Helmand, elements of the 215th Afghan National Army Corps planned and conducted independent counterinsurgency missions in Nar-e Saraj targeting insurgent safe havens relying on only mentoring assistance from ISAF.

In northern Afghanistan, ISAF has increased its capability with the addition of 4,000 U.S. forces and increased Afghan forces, bringing the total number of coalition forces in the region to about 30,000. These additional forces have allowed Afghan and ISAF units to conduct clearing operations in Baghlan focused along key commercial routes to Mazar-e Sharif.

"As [Afghan] and ISAF units continue to achieve success against insurgent networks and sanctuaries, the Afghan people will continue to feel empowered to reject the insurgents within their communities," Blotz said. "As this happens, the insurgency will continue to weaken, and low-level fighters will abandon their losing cause.

"Combining these security successes with anti-corruption programs, reintegration efforts, and long-term development projects will lead to the further weakening of the insurgent cause and greater security for the Afghan people," he added.

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