If you watched any of the news this weekend, through today then you know that it has been a bad few days in Afghanistan. There have been multiple bombings, attacks, and a lot of death over the last few days. What is really scary is that is is areas which have been historically “safe” like Konduz that have had a recent uptick in reported attacks.
The “Mez” and Konduz used to take a back seat to the south and east when it came to violence against coalition forces. That is why many countries sent their forces to Afghanistan with the caveat that they only serve in the north. Countries like Spain, Germany and many others only liked to have their forces serve up north.
Now what will they do? What will our coalition “partners” do this year? There are no “safe” areas anywhere in the country. The reason is because the Taliban/Al-Queda/HIG, or whatever you want to call them are like the mole in the game whack-a-mole. When we attack them and put the pressure on them in one area they just pop up somewhere else.
The Wardak and Logar provinces are great examples of that. Up until 2008 those areas were relatively benign when it came to enemy activity. We used to pass through there all the time with no thought up them being high-threat areas. I mean we always considered every place we went as a possible enemy area, but some have a higher probability than others. Those provinces are on the outskirts of Kabul and by the time we got there and away from Paktika and Ghazni provinces we felt fairly confident any attempt to attack us was relatively low.
But that changed in 2008 after a lot of pressure in the southeast provinces of Ghazni, Paktika and Paktia provinces. Once the “mole” started to get whacked a lot there, they popped up in Wardak and Logar. Not only were those areas relatively un-patrolled by coalition forces, they were also on the doorstep of Kabul and gave the enemy a great I/O campaign to demonstrate they can reside and attack from outside the capitol.
Now we have a lot of forces in those provinces and have since 2008. We are doing great things out west, the south of course is saturated with forces as the southeast. So where does the mole pop up? The North, in addition to the central eastern areas of places like Nanghahar, Jalalabad, and Khost.
This is a 360 degree asymmetrical battle-field as it always has been in Afghanistan. That means you can never pull from one area to strengthen another area, otherwise you risk losing gains in the “safe” areas. The enemy is nomadic, the fighters we face every day, that make the IEDs, and that kill and torture local nationals are for the most part not from the area where they fight. Their higher level leadership may be, but many of the local level JDAM fodder aren’t. So they will move to wherever they see an opening to exploit our lack of attention on a certain area.
So how we will address this issue and keep them from moving into areas we have made “safe”? My answer on that will come in a couple of days. This posting is long enough already.