When is a first strike not a first strike?
When it's Anticipatory Retaliation.

July 08, 2005

Afghanistan Daze


Larry Johnson frets:

Beyond the tragedy of the deaths of US 16 military personnel, this incident raises some disturbing issues. The ability of the Taliban to communicate with the outside world about activities in a remote area of Afghanistan is equal to if not better than that of the United States. War is not simply engagements on the ground, it also involves information flow. The Taliban are showing a very sophisticated capability in this regard.

Well, two points:

First, it's not likely that the communication by the Taliban was accurate regarding the bare facts. Wretchard calls the questions "interesting" rather than disturbing, and unlike Larry, admits that all we have to go on at this point is speculation. The claim the Taliban makes about "spies" is probably correct, at least in the sense that the original recon team was stealthily looking for information about "high value targets." However, it's not clear that any of the "spies" were actually captured by the Taliban, as they claimed. Again, according to Wretchard, that seems unlikely, not so much because such a capture is physically unlikely, but because their own communication suggests they're lying. Not only is the sort of "all-points" contact between the field forces and their spokesman, that so impresses Larry, probably more tenuous than they've represented, but their claim to have a "high ranking" Navy SEAL belies the fact that a high ranking officer probably would not have been on such a recon mission in the first place. Moreover, the information that such a prisoner is being held specifically in Kunar "in good health" is not something that a guerilla force hiding out in the mountains is likely to have communicated for public consumption.

So, there's probably no intentional information content in the centralized Taliban "communication," and it's difficult to tell how the capability to communicate only readily exposed disinformation is "superior" to saying nothing. In fact, in this case the Taliban would have been better off had they said nothing. By talking too much they've revealed more than they intended, which isn't what I'd call "sophistication," exactly.

Second, US forces actually have vastly superior decentralized communication networks between the public and men on the ground in remote places. They're called "milblogs." It's just that the Western and Arab press pay them no heed.

(Cross-posted by Demosophist to Demosophia and The Jawa Report)

Launched by Demosophist at July 8, 2005 03:02 PM | Missile Tracks

Retaliatiory Launches

free hit counter