The Bush administration declared more than two years ago that major combat in
Afghanistan was over, but despite this claim for the past four months, the U.S.
paratroopers and other American units have been fighting a war thousands of feet
up in the sun-blasted peaks and boulder-strewn defiles of one of history's most
They're facing guerrillas who were born here, hardened by poverty and backwardness,
and steeped in a centuries-old tradition of resisting foreigners. The guerrillas'
aim is to impose another hard-line Islamic regime on Afghanistan, one that might
make the country once again a sanctuary for Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida
The Taliban have killed more than 40 U.S. soldiers and more than 800 Afghan
officials, police, troops, aid workers and civilians since March in a campaign
aimed at derailing Sept. 18 parliamentary and provincial elections and eroding
confidence in President Hamid Karzai and his American-led backers.
Borrowing tactics from their counterparts in Iraq, they've beheaded alleged
informers and staged two suicide bombings, a form of terrorism rarely seen in
The fighters of the resurgent Taliban movement are no match in face-to-face
clashes for highly trained U.S. troops, who are equipped to fight at night and
are backed by helicopter gunships, jets, unmanned spy planes, Afghan soldiers
and local intelligence officers.
But after suffering massive casualties in a series of major firefights, the
Taliban have learned to avoid set-piece battles with the U.S. and Afghan troops
who are trying to pen them up in the mountains so they can't sabotage the upcoming
The war has evolved into a bloody game of cat and mouse, a classic guerrilla
struggle with echoes of the much larger and far bloodier conflicts in Iraq,
Chechnya and Vietnam.
The outcome may well come down to which side can outlast the other.
The Taliban operate in small bands, staging hit-and-run attacks, assassinations
and ambushes, laying mines and firing missiles and rocket-propelled grenades
before melting back into local populations. U.S. intelligence reports indicate
that Taliban leaders constantly change locations.
"One day, they could be firing at you and serving you chai (tea) the next,"
said Army Capt. Michael Kloepper, 29, of Caldwell, N.J., after a helicopter
dropped him and some of his men on a boulder-strewn hilltop dubbed Landing Zone
North Dakota on a two-day mission in a remote valley in southern Zabul province.
Go to Original Article >>>
The views expressed herein are the writers' own and do not necessarily reflect those of Looking Glass News. Click the disclaimer link below for more information.