After their defeat against Northern Alliance and United States in 2001, the Taliban announced that they would launch guerilla warfare in Afghanistan. Since then, the Taliban have kept changing their war tactics. They are involved in direct clashes with Afghan and NATO forces, suicide and road side bombings, kidnapping and targeted killing. If the NATO and Afghan forces plan to tackle or counter their face-to-face attacks, they switch to intensified suicide and roadside bombing or commando style raids, as have been seen in past few years. Whatever technique the Taliban have used, their clothing and style have greatly helped them in conducting deadly attacks in the last ten years. They wear outfit and maintain beard and therefore fully resemble to common Afghans.
Taliban fighters are going smart to trick security forces. They easily travel in the strictest security by disguising themselves as women by wearing burqa and their attacks in the uniforms of Afghan police and army have been quite successful. Turban bomb is another deadly tactic of Taliban that was used thrice in 2011.
Ex-president of Afghanistan and head of peace council, Burhan ud Din Rabbani, mayor of Kandahar, Ghulam Haidar Hamid, and Head of Ulema Council Kandahar were all killed in turban bombs. The insurgents in all the three cases were successful to reach their targets because of concealing explosive material in their turbans.
Turbans are normally worn by elderly people and such people are seen with respect in Afghan society. Taliban's misuse of burqas and turban is conceived the most cowardly action by the people of Afghanistan as it is against Afghani culture and tradition. But common sense says, if Taliban can, without any hesitation, slaughter innocent people and hang children, it would misuse every value of Afghan society, even religion to reach their evil objectives.
According to Afghan officials in the Ministry of Defense (MoD), the Afghan security forces face difficulty in identifying insurgents during the military operation called 'Omid' or 'hope.' Operation Omid was launched about ten months back for the purpose of targeting and separating members of Taliban and Haqqani network from common people. Although the operation will continue for the next six months, singling out militants living among people in the districts of Afghanistan is a tough task for Afghan army and police.
Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, 26 October, General Zahir Azimi, MoD Spokesperson said, "The insurgents have no specific identity and it is difficult for the security forces to distinguish them from common people. They fight our army until they are defeated and killed. And when they get killed, they are labeled as civilians."
Both for NATO and Afghan security forces distinguishing of enemy has been a great obstacle in operations. There have been certain incidents in which civilians were targeted mistakenly during military operations. Every time such incident has occurred it has triggered the angers of Afghans. Both public and the President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai have protested killing of civilians by security forces. But, insurgent killed and then labeled as civilian brings a twist to the story.
The Taliban also put efforts to defame the NATO and Afghan army by forcing the people to pronounce killed insurgents as local residents in media. According to General Azimi, Taliban are quite successful in their propaganda against the government of Afghanistan and the international community. "In many cases in North and other parts of the country, it has been quite difficult to declare a killed person as an insurgent or a civilian. The Taliban threaten local people to death, if they did not convey that the killed militants were Taliban."
In addition to 'Omid', the Afghan securities have also launched the military operation 'Shamsher' or 'Sword' in Paktiya, Paktika, Ghazni and Logar provinces. In this operation, the MoD says, hundreds of insurgents have been killed, injured or arrested and large amounts of ammunition and other kinds of weapons have been captured making the operation quite successful. Another military operation 'Shamsher 2' is under away, according to MoD.
These operations are deemed pivotal as the Afghan forces are in the process of grabbing more roles. The first phase of security transition was completed this summer in seven areas of Afghanistan. President Hamid Karzai is expected to announce the second phase of transition very soon in which 17 more areas will come under the control of Afghan national army and police. Although there are concerns among Afghans about the capability of Afghan security forces, falling of provinces under Afghan control is a great success of Afghanistan and the international community.
Despite, all the claims of success against enemy, the security condition is at its worst. As the weather gets cold, the activities of Taliban also slow down. But it is not yet very cold and the insurgents continue launching attacks against NATO and Afghan forces. Yesterday's attack in Kabul and several attacks in Kandahar during the October signal that more attacks are to come.
In all the attacks launched by Taliban, their resemblance to common Afghans largely helps them. Whether burqa, turban, military uniforms or any other thing, the Taliban will make use any stuff that can assist them trick the security forces and reach their targets. At the same time, it is quite difficult to distinguish them from common Afghans which sometimes, results in the killing of innocent people. The government of Afghanistan and NATO can tackle this problem just by bolstering their intelligence activities. A strong intelligence agency is the timely need of Afghanistan.