The Taliban conducted an all-out assault on Ghazni, the capital of the Ghazni province on Friday. Though the attack failed, they killed at least 14 Afghan police officers in the process, wounding another 20. They hit the city from several points of ingress, attempting to overrun it and expel U.S.-backed forces from the city. The attacks began in the earliest hours of the morning — around 2:00 a.m. — and the town was littered with gunfire and fires. The battle extended into the day, and U.S. forces eventually sent air support to bolster Afghan security forces — this meant close air support (attack helicopters) and one drone strike. One Afghan helicopter went down and crash-landed, but the specific reason for this has not yet been made clear.
Eventually the attack was repelled. Afghan forces went from building to building throughout the city, routing any other Taliban forces and expelling them from Ghazni.
Officials are currently investigating the situation, figuring out how the Taliban, despite the failure, managed to mount this successful of an attack.
This report is primarily based on information acquired from the Associated Press.
This all-out assault is indicative of the type of changing warfare that we will continue to see, as NATO forces withdrawal their presence (and therefore support) and leave the Taliban and the Afghan government to fight among one another with more independence.
Tactically speaking, it makes sense. Throughout the war, the Taliban have historically use guerrilla tactics because it was the only realistic option they had. They were never going to overcome American forces in open warfare — the U.S. was able to take ground in Afghanistan with little difficulty (relatively speaking). This forced the Taliban to use tactics that endangered their own less, inflicting maximum casualties without having to rely on extensive training, funding or manpower, hence the rise in IED attacks, insider attacks, and other guerrilla tactics.
As the NATO presence wanes, the Taliban may become more emboldened to make attacks like the one on Ghazni. No doubt they will still use the tools they have improved over the years (suicide bombing, IEDs, attacks with small groups inflicting maximum damage, and other terror-based warfare), but the less involvement NATO has, the more the Taliban will feel that brazen attacks on Afghan positions will be possible.
Peace talks are in the works, but they are by no means a sure thing. If they are to fail, it’s likely that these outright attacks will become more frequent as the NATO presence and tactical influence in the area continues to decline.
Featured image: In this Thursday, May 17, 2012 photo, Afghan National Army soldiers patrol outside the village of Noor Khiel, in Logar province, east Afghanistan. | AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus