Officials Note Low Insurgent Morale in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan, Aug. 25, 2010 — Intel­li­gence reports indi­cate some pock­ets of low insur­gent morale, with some insur­gent fight­ers reluc­tant to keep fight­ing and some refus­ing to assume dis­trict com­mands when com­man­ders are cap­tured or killed, Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force offi­cials in Afghanistan said today.

In a writ­ten state­ment, offi­cials said the low morale among ene­my fight­ers and insur­gent lead­ers can be linked to suc­cess­ful secu­ri­ty oper­a­tions by Afghan and ISAF forces.

Coali­tion and Afghan forces con­duct­ed more than 2,800 coun­tert­er­ror­ist oper­a­tions over the past 90 days, the state­ment said, killing or cap­tur­ing more than 365 insur­gent lead­ers and 2,386 fight­ers. These counter-insur­gency suc­cess­es have also led to a grow­ing sense of dis­trust among insur­gent fight­ers, height­ened fear of spies in their midst and increased sus­pi­cion among rival tribes, offi­cials said.

“While the coali­tion strength and capa­bil­i­ty of the [Afghan forces] are on the rise, we are see­ing evi­dence of low insur­gent morale, which is affect­ing their capa­bil­i­ty across the coun­try,” said Ger­man Brig. Gen. Josef Blotz, an ISAF spokesman. “The coali­tion will con­tin­ue to neu­tral­ize insur­gents and elim­i­nate their safe havens, expand­ing areas that are secure enough for improved gov­er­nance and devel­op­ment.”

The ISAF state­ment cit­ed the Tal­iban com­man­der in Hel­mand province’s Mar­ja dis­trict as an exam­ple, not­ing that he open­ly acknowl­edged to his fel­low insur­gents that the Tal­iban are los­ing Mar­ja and that their chances of win­ning are poor.

ISAF offi­cials said intel­li­gence reports indi­cate the Tal­iban com­man­der based his assess­ment on bat­tle­field loss­es — insur­gents killed or cap­tured by the coali­tion forces — and increas­ing resent­ment of the insur­gent meth­ods by aver­age Afghans.

“The increas­es in troop strength and con­tin­ued growth in capa­bil­i­ty allowed coali­tion forces to con­duct 83 per­cent more kinet­ic oper­a­tions in July 2010 than we ini­ti­at­ed in July 2009,” Blotz said. “We are inten­si­fy­ing our cam­paign in areas pre­vi­ous­ly held by the insur­gents, includ­ing the cen­tral Hel­mand Riv­er val­ley, in and around Kan­da­har City, and in the vicin­i­ty of Bagh­lan in north­ern Afghanistan.”

The troop increas­es to ISAF are near­ly com­plete, with about 90 per­cent of the 40,000 addi­tion­al ISAF ser­vice­mem­bers already in the­ater. The Afghan army already has achieved the Octo­ber 2010 strength goal of 134,000 sol­diers, and recruit­ing totals for the nation­al police are ahead of sched­ule, with more than 104,000 police offi­cers serv­ing in uni­form, offi­cials said.

The secu­ri­ty ring in Kan­da­har City con­tin­ues to strength­en, and oper­a­tions have begun in the Arghandab dis­trict of north­west­ern Kan­da­har, a tra­di­tion­al Tal­iban strong­hold and source of insur­gent strength in the region, the ISAF state­ment said. The clear-and-hold oper­a­tion known as Amaali­at Mota­hed Kar­dan Arghandab — “Uni­ty Arghandab” — sup­ports the ongo­ing Hamkari oper­a­tion in Kan­da­har by deny­ing the insur­gents safe haven in the province, offi­cials added.

Anoth­er oper­a­tion designed to deny insur­gent free­dom of maneu­ver was Task Force Helmand’s recent air assault into the last remain­ing insur­gent strong­hold in Nad-e Ali in Hel­mand province. Also in Hel­mand, ele­ments of the 215th Afghan Nation­al Army Corps planned and con­duct­ed inde­pen­dent coun­terin­sur­gency mis­sions in Nar-e Saraj tar­get­ing insur­gent safe havens rely­ing on only men­tor­ing assis­tance from ISAF.

In north­ern Afghanistan, ISAF has increased its capa­bil­i­ty with the addi­tion of 4,000 U.S. forces and increased Afghan forces, bring­ing the total num­ber of coali­tion forces in the region to about 30,000. These addi­tion­al forces have allowed Afghan and ISAF units to con­duct clear­ing oper­a­tions in Bagh­lan focused along key com­mer­cial routes to Mazar-e Sharif. “As [Afghan] and ISAF units con­tin­ue to achieve suc­cess against insur­gent net­works and sanc­tu­ar­ies, the Afghan peo­ple will con­tin­ue to feel empow­ered to reject the insur­gents with­in their com­mu­ni­ties,” Blotz said. “As this hap­pens, the insur­gency will con­tin­ue to weak­en, and low-lev­el fight­ers will aban­don their los­ing cause.

“Com­bin­ing these secu­ri­ty suc­cess­es with anti-cor­rup­tion pro­grams, rein­te­gra­tion efforts, and long-term devel­op­ment projects will lead to the fur­ther weak­en­ing of the insur­gent cause and greater secu­ri­ty for the Afghan peo­ple,” he added.

From an Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force News Release

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