"Pay my troops no mind; they're just on a fact-finding mission."

How The Taliban Take A Village

The Taliban method requires relatively few of their own personnel. Its strength is in the local subversion of the most basic levels of village organization and life. It is also a decentralized approach. Guidance is given and then carried out with commanders applying their own interpretation of how to proceed. The goal is to control the village, and at the local level the only effective method, which must be used by all commanders, is to control what we have termed the nodes of influence. Form fits function, an Afghan village can only work one way to allow its members to survive a subsistence agrarian lifestyle, and the Taliban know it well.Taliban Control of Villages

To control an area the Taliban will identify villages that can be most easily subverted. They will then spread to other villages in the area one at a time, focusing their efforts on whichever node of influence seem most likely to support their effort first. Using this model the Taliban could influence and dominate or control a valley or area with a population of 1000-2500 — of ten villages with 100-250 people (100-250 compounds) — with only between 20-50 active fighters and ten fighting leaders. The actual numbers may be more population and fewer fighters.

The Taliban will have an elaborate network to support their fighters in areas they control or dominate. They will have safe houses, medical clinics, supply sites, weapons caches, transportation agents, and early warning networks to observe and report. The US and Afghan forces, heavily laden with excessive body armor and equipment, are reluctant to leave their vehicles. They are blown up on the same roads and paths they entered the area on. The Taliban will use feints and lures to draw our forces away from caches and leaders in an attempt to buy them time to relocate, or into a lethal ambush. After the attack the Taliban will disperse and blend into the village. The village will usually sustain civilian casualties and the information or propaganda will be spread of US and Afghan forces using excessive force. The US and Afghan forces will leave or set up an outpost nearby, but the attacks will continue because the forces are not in the village, do not truly know “who’s who in the zoo”, and aren’t able to effectively engage Taliban personnel or effectively interface with the village nodes of influence to their benefit.


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