‘Hot Winter’ of fighting expected in Afghanistan

Our Washington Independent colleague Spencer Ackerman is embedded with U.S. troops on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

KABUL, Afghanistan — Since Afghans took up arms against the Soviet occupation in 1979, insurgency in war-torn Afghanistan has followed a cyclical pattern. The spring and the summer are for fighting. The winter — which, particularly along the mountainous, porous eastern border with Pakistan, can feature six-foot snowbanks — is for regrouping. Until, perhaps, now.

U.S. military officials are warning that intelligence now indicates that the Taliban-led insurgency in Afghanistan plans to launch major operations this winter. While those officials publicly claim they’re prepared for a winter offensive, it would place U.S. counterinsurgency efforts in unfamiliar territory, with little precedent to guide them. It would likely entail a major escalation of insurgent aggression to cap off what has already been the bloodiest year for the U.S. military in the seven-year war.

“This kind of thing raises alarm bells,” said Vikram Singh, who worked on counterinsurgency and South Asia issues at the Pentagon from 2003 to 2007.

Read the rest of Ackerman’s dispatch: ‘Hot Winter’ of Fighting Expected in Afghanistan

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