View Full Version : Taliban adopted WWI-style tactics in fight against Nato: General

03 Oct 06,, 05:15
Taliban adopted WWI-style tactics in fight against Nato: General
Monday September 25, 2006 (0912 PST)

PASHMUL: Quiet reigns over this dusty plain strewn with orchards and crossed with lunar-like mountains. For two weeks, Nato and the Taliban battled each other here, in this symbolic region of southern Afghanistan which was cleared of its population before the fighting began.
In Pashmul and the adjoining districts of Panjwayi and Zhari, southwest of Kandahar city, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) led by Nato launched Operation Medusa to dislodge the Taliban from a stronghold near the birthplace of the movement in the early 1990s.

The village of Pashmul, a collection of hamlets, suffered the worst damage. The school is in ruins, its roof sagging and white walls crumbled. It had been built with US aid and served as a command post for the Taliban, Nato said.

"They were shooting at us from these grape huts," said Colonel Richard Williams, deputy head of ISAF forces in the south, pointing to mudbrick buildings pierced by multiple slits for aeration and used to dry grapes into raisins.

Despite the arid soil, with every step kicking up clouds of dust, agriculture thrives: grapes, watermelons, corn, hashish and opium poppies all flourish, fed by a system of underwater irrigation.Walls of mud surround the fields, which are crossed by dry canals ideal trenches.

"They used the canal system to attack and then fall back to the bunkers," Williams said.His escort stiffened suddenly at the sight of a silhouette ahead before realising it is that of a child.

"You can?t really see anything," said Staff Sergeant Steven Keith. "You don?t see who is behind that wall, you don?t see what?s in the cornfield."

The fighters were using trench and bunker systems right out of World War I, said Williams. They may have chosen to make a stand here because even the Russian invaders of the 1980s could not beat them out of Pashmul or Panjwayi.

"So they wanted to do it again," he said, noting the position was also at the "back door" of Kandahar city, the largest city in the south. Moving through this area has been the traditional route for taking Kandahar, said ISAF spokesman Major Quentin Innis. In another part of Pashmul, Nato bombs destroyed a bread oven under which the Taliban had installed a mortar position, another example of their extensive defensive network.

"We left the area, and then the Taliban arrived," said the owner of the property, 35-year-old Abdul Qader. "We could see the fighting here from the other side of the river where we had taken refuge, in Panjwayi Bazaar." "My family is still there," he said, adding he did not feel the time was right to bring them home. "The good news is the villagers left before we arrived," said Williams. "So there was no collateral damage and we didn?t have to worry about that. "Some left because ISAF had dropped leaflets warning about the looming showdown, Williams said. Others said they had left because the Taliban instructed them to or they were tired of being bullied by the rebels.