Lance Cpl. Guillermo Gonzales, a squad automatic weapon gunner from Houston, assigned to India Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, patrols into position during the start of Operation Thresher in Trek Nawa, Afghanistan, July 23. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Mark Fayloga)
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.
The low morale among fighters and insurgent leaders can be linked to ANSF and ISAF successful security operations. Coalition and ANSF forces conducted more than 2,800 counter-terrorist operations over the past 90 days, 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, their heightened fear of spies, and increased suspicion between rival tribes.
“While the coalition strength and capability of the ANSF are on the rise, we are seeing evidence of low insurgent morale, which is affecting their capability across the country,” said Brig. Gen. Josef Blotz, 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.”
One specific example of this trend is the Marjeh District Taliban commander, Mullah Niamat, who openly acknowledged to his fellow insurgents that the Taliban is losing Marjeh and their chances of winning are poor. According to intelligence reports, his assessment was based 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% 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 approximately 90% of the 40,000 additional ISAF servicemembers
already in theater. At the same time, the Afghan National Army has already achieved the October 2010 strength goal of 134,000 soldiers and the Afghan National Police recruiting totals are ahead of schedule with over 104,000 police officers serving in uniform.
The security ring in Kandahar City continues to strengthen and operations have begun in the nearby Arghandab District of northwestern Kandahar, a traditional Taliban stronghold and source of insurgent strength in the region. This 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.
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, Helmand Province. Also in Helmand Province, elements of the 215th ANA Corps planned and conducted independent counter-insurgency 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 National Security Forces bringing the total number of coalition forces in the region to approximately 30,000. These additional forces have allowed ANSF and ISAF units to conduct clearing operations in Baghlan focused along key commercial routes to Mazar-e Sharif.
“As ANSF 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. As this happens, the insurgency will continue to weaken and low-level fighters will abandon their losing cause,” Blotz said. “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.”