Saturday, April 11, 2015

Operation Zulfiqar - Not so Much

Operation Zulfiqar is now complete. The Afghan government claims that the Taliban have suffered huge losses and much of Helmand province is more secure to include Sangin district. Resolute Headquarters will crank up their Information Operations (IO) machine and issue the usual cheerleader proclamations - posted to Twitter, Facebook, the RS website, and DVIDS. The Afghan military launched Operation Zulfiqar in February in an attempt to secure the northern part of Helmand province and demonstrate the government's resolve to fight in the Taliban heartland. The 'clearing operation' is over. However, as is true in most 'clearing operations' - the 'clearing troops' are now departing the area of operations and the Taliban are moving back into the security vacuum. This is how clearing operations went with U.S. troops for a number of years and the same happens with the Afghan National Army (the ANA have learned well from the U.S.). Large unit formations move into an area for a week to a couple of months, look for insurgents, weapons caches, IEDs, get shot at, suffer casualties, accomplish almost nothing, and then . . . they leave. So they accomplish the "Clear" part of "Clear, Hold, and Build" - but . . . then they leave. And the Taliban filter back in to control the village, the valley, or the district. The corrupt Afghan police who are left guarding the district center(s) are ill-led and ill-equipped to fight the Taliban. So the police 'secure the district center'; which is usually a walled compound where the district governor may show up to work (usually not) and the district chief of police (DCoP) comes to a quiet understanding with the real power in the district - the insurgents. Read more in "Afghan Effort to Secure South Falters", The Wall Street Journal,  April 10, 2015.

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