Saturday, July 10, 2010

Why waves of attacks in Afghanistan?

I was wondering why the insurgent forces in Afghanistan planned a bunch of attacks at the same time, instead of keeping up a steady stream, and I realized that it was similar to 18th century European tactics, when you wanted all of your soldiers in a line to fire at the same time.

I always thought that it was tactically stupid to have everyone fire at the same time because some targeted enemies will get hit several times, while others won't be hit. If they fired one after another in a never ending line, the guys that get hit go down, and the next guys aim at someone that was still standing.

Both 18th century and Afghan warriors recognize something. War isn't won by killing all of the enemy. It's about morale. In the 18th century, seeing a guy drop every second wasn't nearly as frightening as seeing twenty guys suddenly fall over at once. You didn't have time to watch and see them fall one after the other anyway. But you would notice when twenty guys fall over at once. The enemy in Afghanistan realize they can never win be killing all of the allied forces. The only way they can win is by demoralizing the nations of their enemies. They don't do the waves of attacks to destroy the enemy completely. They do it to get on the news. Every news article about dead American/allied troops strikes a blow at the morale of the enemy. There are few/no news articles about single/small attacks. It's only big/coordinated waves of attacks that give them the news stories.

For allied forces as well the war isn't about killing every single enemy combatant. It's about killing/capturing leaders, and convincing others' to defect from the cause by offering better opportunities. Still it would be extremely difficult to change the areas that have always looked to leadership from tribal chiefs to suddenly change and recognize a federal government from a far away place.

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