By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 16, 2012 – A few terrorist attacks does not make yesterday’s combat in Afghanistan’s capital of Kabul the “Taliban Tet Offensive,” the Pentagon’s top public affairs official said here today.
The Tet Offensive in 1968 involved tens of thousands of North Vietnamese regulars and thousands of Viet Cong irregulars. They attacked the length and breadth of South Vietnam from Hue in the north to the Mekong Delta to the American Embassy in Saigon.
Yesterday’s attacks, by contrast, involved tens of terrorists armed with suicide vests and car bombs and some rocket-propelled grenades and small arms, George Little, acting assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, told reporters.
“Initial indications are that the Haqqani network was involved in the attacks in Kabul,” Little said. “This was a well-coordinated set of attacks. I’m unaware of any U.S. casualties.”
The Afghan national security forces responded to the attacks and handled matters by themselves, Little said. “They had the lead role in many instances and successfully repelled the enemy,” he said.
The attacks mark the beginning of the “fighting season” in Afghanistan, when enemy fighters typically have become active after the harsh Afghanistan winter.
“We thought something like this could very well happen, and it did,” Little said. “These were attacks that we believe show the Haqqanis and other insurgents are concerned about the progress being made in Afghanistan. And the fact that certain institutions of governance in Afghanistan were targeted … suggests they feel the need to attack those institutions and what those institutions stand for: a brighter Afghanistan.”
Little flatly rejected any analogy between yesterday’s events in Afghanistan and the Tet Offensive in Vietnam. “This was a coordinated set of attacks,” he said. “We are looking at suicide bombers, RPG, mortar fire etc. This was not a large-scale offensive sweeping into Kabul or other parts of the country.”
The actions were multiple terrorist attacks, he noted. “I’m not minimizing the seriousness of this, but this was in no way akin to the Tet Offensive or other enemy offensives that I’m aware of,” he said.
While Little didn’t speak directly to intelligence on the attacks, he did say chatter had indicated something like this might occur. “I don’t believe this was an intelligence failure,” he said. “We had some sense that something like this might happen. We know from past history that this is something they might do. This is the start of the spring fighting season, and the response was very effective.
“If we’re going to be held to the standard that we have to know precisely when and where each insurgent attack is going to occur,” he continued, “then that’s an unfair standard.”