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Khan on Taliban Warfare

I take a very skeptical position toward America’s alliance with Pakistan, whose elite, to put it as charitably as I can, have a myopic policy toward the Taliban and Islamist extremist groups. That said, the DoD has in previous decades, had standing mil-mil exchanges with Pakistan’s Army that were usually better and far more productive than our diplomatic relationship with Islamabad  ( a situation that is mirrored in Latin American relations). This tradition generally involves talented Pakistani officers partaking in training and educational programs with their American counterparts or studying in our war colleges.

Going back through recent articles at SWJ leads me to recommend the following judicious analysis of the Taliban by LTC. Ehsan Mehmood Khan, currently a student at National Defense University. It’s an excellent survey of the Taliban’s strengths at formulating and implementing their political-military strategy within the context of different strategic schools of thought and it should have attracted more attention than it received when it was first published at SWJ Blog.

 A Strategic Perspective on Taliban Warfare

Taliban Warfare has occupied news headlines in the global information expanse for over a decade. It is also a topic of choice for academics and scholars. However, the subject is often viewed and analyzed in a subjective rather than objective manner. It is mostly looked at across the prism of terrorism – atrocities and crimes against humanity committed by a group of non-state, though not stateless, bandits. Seldom has a theorist or practitioner picked up the pen to draw on the military aspects of the war so as to reach correct conclusions as to how could this war come to an acceptable-by-all end. This line of thought and reasoning might hold good for a given category of politicians but the students of military strategy and those involved in kinetic operations in a counterinsurgency campaign remain bewildered on the nature of the war. There is a need to understand Taliban as people, not monster, and as warriors not gangsters. Likewise, Taliban Warfare is required to be understood in correct military perspective rather than a mere act of crime, terrorism or banditry.

5 Responses to “Khan on Taliban Warfare”

  1. Khan Says:

    Thanks Zenpundit; this is Khan.
    Actually, many American do not really know the Pakistanis. I can bet you don’t have a friend more sincere than Pakistan.

  2. zen Says:

    Welcome Col. Khan,
    Many Americans, living in a continental-sized country, are very parochial and do not have much experience with cultures and languages other than their own, so you are correct that familiarity with Pakistan is not high. That Pakistan might have legitimate grievances of its own regarding shifts in US policy going back to the Nixon administration, would comes as a surprise to most Americans.
    However, the problem is not the capacity of Pakistan or Pakistanis for friendship with America but that we have a situation where the respective weaknesses of our two nations’ elite decision makers are reinforcing each other’s dysfunctionality.
    American leaders have been deeply divided since the Vietnam War, so they try to paper over internal differences and avoid strategic decision-making because making stark policy choices in foreign affairs ignites very bitter generational partisan conflict and conflict between the executive and legislative branches. COIN is superpopular because it allows the elite to come together around a policy with a durable consensus.
    Pakistan’s internal politics has a different character but I think it is fair to say it has deep divisions of its own between factions and institutions that make policy change difficult. Having pursued regional influence and security through sponsorship of deniable paramilitaries of Islamist extremists, the situation has reached the point where blowback is obvious and the extremists are damaging Pakistan’s internal security and harming Pakistan’s relations with the rest of the region.
    Neither elite seems willing to grapple with its own flaws in order to solve our mutual problems, at least from where I sit.

  3. Khan Says:

    You are totally right. Nonetheless, let societies i.e. we keep playing a positibe role … and by the way, I greatly appreciate the societal attributes of the US.

  4. zen Says:

    And it is good to have you here Colonel. When the Clinton administration ( or perhaps it was the Congress, my memory is faulty) terminated our mil-mil relationship over the Indo-Pakistani bomb tests in the 90’s, I think the net effect was to impair how well the two countries understood each other’s national security perspectives. Some of the problems today are the legacy of that era.

  5. Khan Says:

    No, it was the Bush Sr. Administration. Throughout the Cold War / Soviet Afghan War, wherein Pakistan was protecting American interests in that part of the world and many countries (including India) were marry making with the erstwhile USSR, Washington remained quiet on every issue. Immediatly after Soviet withdrawl from Afghanistan, the US disengage from Afghanistan (the result of which occupies the world head lines even today), US disengaged even from Pakistan (refer to Pressler Amendment)…

    Anyway, have you seen my latest article on SWJ. You can find it here…


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