NATO officials are loudly touting the Kandahar offensive as a “rout,” saying the massive offensive has been chasing Taliban forces out of the region and forcing many of them to retreat across the border into Pakistan.
“We now have the initiative. We have created momentum,” insisted Maj. Gen. Nick Carter. But over nine years into the occupation there are few things we haven’t heard before, and claims of military routs of Taliban forces are nothing new.
Indeed the Kandahar “momentum” sounds suspiciously the same as the February invasion of Marjah, a small farming community whose occupation was supposed to take a matter of days and which, eight months later, seems less stable than ever.
Officials insist this time is “different,” but the victories on the ground seem mostly the same old story, with troops encountering little resistance and the Taliban just moving on. Time and again NATO forces have launched offensives to occupy a region, only to see the Taliban move off until the forces declare victory and move on, allowing them to return.
And Taliban commanders are saying the same thing, with one calling the latest situation a “tactical retreat.” NATO appears to be able to “clear” a region, but with its dramatically superior firepower this was never in any real doubt. It is the ability to “hold” that is in question, and after nine years of failure it is probably irresponsible for NATO to even claim a “rout” like this as anything revolutionary in a war which has seen this many, many times.