Small Wars Journal

Dispatch: The Battle for Kandahar

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Dispatch: The Battle for Kandahar

by Michael Yon

Download the full article: Dispatch: The Battle for Kandahar

The counteroffensive has begun. More accurately, it might be called a counter-counteroffensive. Close to a decade ago, we beat the Taliban and al Qaeda here. The Taliban re-grew and waged an increasingly successful counteroffensive. And so our ninth year at war is the year of our counter-counteroffensive.

The most remarkable feature of our counter-counteroffensive likely will be the Battle for Kandahar, or BfK. Kandahar was the birthplace of the Taliban and Kandahar City is the provincial capital. The Taliban is successfully wresting Kandahar back into their control. The BfK is likely our last effort to halt and reverse Taliban influence from spreading. The winner in the BfK will be set to eventually take most or all of the chips off the table, and so BfK is crucial to the outcome of the war.

Much of the BfK will take place not in Kandahar, or even Afghanistan, but in the media-sphere, and likely will affect U.S. elections this year. The implications are vast.

This is a political war on nearly every level. Though this will almost certainly be our most deadly year so far, violence is often a minor aspect of the struggle, while in some places combat is—by far—the most prevalent feature. Insofar as combat, our plans do not include serious fighting within Kandahar City, though soon after publication of this dispatch fighting will erupt in nearby areas. BfK is more of a process for both sides than a set battle. The Taliban are succeeding in their process to take Kandahar, and we wish to reverse that process.

Download the full article: Dispatch: The Battle for Kandahar

Michael Yon is a former Green Beret who has been reporting from Iraq and Afghanistan since December 2004. No other reporter has spent as much time with combat troops in these two wars. Michael's dispatches from the frontlines have earned him the reputation as the premier independent combat journalist of his generation. His work is published at Michael Yon Online and has been featured on Good Morning America, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, CNN, ABC, FOX, as well as hundreds of other major media outlets all around the world.

About the Author(s)

Michael Yon is a former Green Beret, native of Winter Haven, Fl. who has been reporting from Iraq and Afghanistan since December 2004.  No other reporter has spent as much time with combat troops in these two wars.  Michael’s dispatches from the frontlines have earned him the reputation as the premier independent combat journalist of his generation.  His work has been featured on “Good Morning America,” The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, CNN, ABC, FOX, as well as hundreds of other major media outlets all around the world.

Comments

danielet

Sun, 04/25/2010 - 5:02pm

We keep claiming that we're so much better than the Soviets in Kandahar. Yet Dr. Marc Sageman, one of leaders of the CIA team fighting Afghan War from Pakistan:

"This has led me to go back and review what Soviet policy was in Afghanistan for 10
years. It has been bad-mouthed so far in this panel, but I was on the other side. I was
intimately involved in running the war against the Soviets for three years, and I couldnt
afford to underestimate the enemy. We should not repeat their mistakes. We should learn
from them.
The Soviets had an advantage. They were dealing with a less corrupt Afghan government,
and they were dealing with fairly strong leadership as soon as they got rid of
Babrak Karmal and put Najibullah in as the president. Najibullah was a fairly effective
president and not corrupt, and the Soviets did not have any pressure from domestic protest
because they hid the body bags. They actually did not tell the population how many
people they lost until after the war. They were very careful about that; nobody could
mention Afghanistan.
They developed a fairly efficient and effective counterinsurgency doctrine after 1986.
They learned from their mistakes after about six years, and what they did is exactly
what we are suggesting right now. This, to me, was a surprise because it was fairly
sophisticated. They were preaching national reconciliation and achieved quite a bit of
success with it. They withdrew from the countryside, consolidating the cities and providing
security in the cities and on the roads for most of the time they were there. I know
because I was very frustrated; I was trying to disrupt that security from my side. They
encouraged armed local militias in order to frustrate me and my colleagues at the time,
the mujahedeen. They were pretty good. They also had a fairly decent administration for
dispensing justice for this kind of conflict resolution, and they built roads, schools, factories
and hospitals. That sounds really familiar.
What did that give them? It gave them a decent interval of three years from the
time they withdrew to the time Najibullah fell. That decent interval lasted as long as the
money and support flowed from the Soviet Union. As soon as Yeltsin took over, he cut it
off and Najibullah fell within months.
We have some advantages over the Soviets. The war was very unpopular with the
public. We have professional soldiers, and the morale is much higher than that of the
Soviet Army. We dont have a superpower on the other side supporting the resistance.
There are no Stingers."

http://www.mepc.org/forums_chcs/Conf59.pdf

Then note for comparison the evaluation of where we stand by Gilles Dorrosoro, French Afghanistan expert on where we stand:

http://carnegieendowment.org/files/searching_polit_agreement.pdf