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Taliban A Hated Enemy, A Formidable And Determined Foe

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By GERALD D. SKONING

The evening news recently featured striking video footage of the abject horror of combat in the mountains of war-torn Afghanistan. Independent documentary filmmakers had gone behind the lines with Taliban fighters to capture their dogged struggle against coalition forces.

 

The video images were largely what you'd expect, staccato rifle fire mixed with bursts of heavy machine-gun fire, all of which was punctuated by the thump of exploding mortar rounds and rocket-propelled grenades.

 

But, one feature of the video was particularly conspicuous. The Taliban warriors were dressed in traditional Afghan garb. They wore heavy robes and had turbans. Unlike the U.S. soldiers they were fighting, they had no helmets, no body armor, no night-vision goggles, and no apparent communication equipment.

 

The enemy doesn't ride to the battlefield in Stryker armored vehicles or heavily armed half tracks. They don't have M1 Abrams tanks at their disposal to shell positions and give armored support on the front lines.

 

The Taliban can't call in airstrikes from aircraft carrier-based fighter bombers. After all, they have no air force or navy. There would be no B-1 or B-52 bombers dropping precision laser-guided bombs on enemy positions.

 

The Taliban have no AH-64 Apache or UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter gunships rolling in on enemy positions launching Hellfire and Hydra rockets, and strafing them with .20mm canons and twin .60 caliber heavy machinegun fire.

 

Unlike coalition forces who can fight the war remotely, the Taliban have no sophisticated drone aircraft for surveillance and laser-guided missile attacks on enemy positions. Taliban warriors have no access to computerized images of battlefield conditions and enemy positions to assist in planning their strategy.

 

Our enemy in Afghanistan has no sophisticated medical evacuation technology, and their field medical units are most likely caves in the mountains. When their soldiers lose a limb in battle, they won't be fitted with the modern prosthetics our soldiers use, they'll just be given a wooden crutch and told to cope.

 

It's a classic David and Goliath battle being waged in the mountains of northeastern Afghanistan. The technological deck is totally stacked against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda forces. Many assume that with our vast military superiority, we should be able to squash the enemy like a bug.

 

But, the Taliban and Al-Qaeda have fought our coalition forces to a standstill with mortars, road-side bombs, and IEDs. The very name, improvised explosive device, speaks volumes about the enemy's primary weapon system: As Webster defines it, they're "making do with whatever materials are at hand."

 

Despite the fact that we are better armed, better trained and better provisioned, we definitely have our work cut out for us. We are battling a formidable foe. And, no one should make the mistake of doubting their courage and determination. They've been fighting in these same mountains for decades in a desperate struggle to protect their homeland from foreign invaders: three bloody wars against the British, and, more recently, a 10-year war against the Soviets. They haven't lost yet.

 

David may be our hated enemy and the devil incarnate, but he's one hell of an intrepid fighter, battling against the world's greatest superpower, and so far holding his own against enormous odds. Someday we may learn the lesson the British and Soviets learned the hard way: Nation-building can be very, very expensive.

 

Gerald D. Skoning lives in Juno Beach. He is retired from a Chicago firm that specializes in labor law.

http://www.palmbeach...nd-2188622.html

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