As many will by now know there’s a major Taliban attack in multiple locations (with heavy weapons) in the Afghan Capital, in progress. The largest such attack so far. This marks the beginning of the 2012 fighting season. It was obvious several months ago that there was going to be a major escalation in the scale of combat occurring in Afghanistan this summer.
This is the opening phase of an escalating proxy-war between great powers for the strategic upper hand, or else to acheive an understanding of the relative balance of power and capabilities.
It’s going to get very bloody from here on.
Attacks rock Kabul, Taliban claims ‘spring offensive’
Updated April 15, 2012 22:34:43
U.S. and Taliban fight for key Afghan highway
By Greg Jaffe, Sunday, April 15, 4:00 AM
SAYAD ABAD, Afghanistan — Highway 1 does not look especially important. It is just a narrow, two-lane ribbon of blacktop.
But in a country with a weak, corruption-plagued government, the road linking the capital to Kandahar, the country’s second most important city, was seen as essential to holding Afghanistan together. The chaos on a vital route so close to Kabul was contributing to a siege mentality in the capital. More than 3,000 U.S. troops were dispatched in 2009 to clean up the mess.
Today Horney has about half of his force protecting Highway 1. The other half holds down two outposts on a dirt road 15 miles to the west of the highway.Insurgents could use the rugged trail, known as “Shadow Highway 1,” to smuggle weapons into Kabul.
On a visit to one of the bullet-pocked outposts on Shadow 1, Col. Mark Landes, Horney’s commander, asked how many insurgents were in operating in the area around the shared Afghan-American base.
“A lot,” Horney said.
“I am so tired of words like ‘a lot,’ ” Landes prodded. “I don’t know what they mean.”
Within a year most of the American troops in Horney’s sector will be gone and the Afghans will be in control. What would happen if the United States left the outpost on the shadow highway? Landes asked.
“If we pull out, the Afghan army and the Taliban will find a way to live together,” Horney guessed.
‘My pride is hurt’
Three days after the near-miss bomb attack, insurgents crept up to Highway 1 and fired a volley of rocket-propelled grenades into two tankers hauling fuel for NATO.
The attack occurred directly in front of one of Horney’s outposts. American snipers, perched on the back wall of the base, shot at the attackers as they fled through a nearby village. Capt. Adrian J. Koss, the commander, and a team of U.S. soldiers pursued them.
By the time the Americans reached the village the locals had disappeared into their walled compounds. The insurgents were gone. Koss and his men returned to their base, passing by the village bazaar stocked with Pop-Tarts, PowerBars and energy drinks stolen from the supply convoys in past attacks.
The insurgents who launched the attack on the fuel tankers were not interested in looting. They wanted to send a message that the Americans could not even safeguard the stretch of highway directly in front of their outpost.
“My pride is hurt,” Koss admitted. “It is my task to secure that highway.”
The trucks burned outside the base for 36 hours — the black oily clouds visible for miles. Horney called Koss at his headquarters and told him to drag the trucks off the highway and out of sight as soon as possible.
“The enemy here feels very confident,” Horney said later, reflecting on the rocket-propelled grenade attack and the near-miss IED strike on his convoy.“There’s no fear of getting caught or killed. We’ve got to put more fear in the insurgents and get more confidence in the population.”