Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics
U.S. military commanders in Afghanistan have often called the Taliban cowards for planting crude roadside bombs, the biggest killer of troops and civilians. They should come out and fight like men, instead of planting these improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and then slipping away into the countryside. If you are out on a patrol with the forces, that’s the kind of thing you often hear.
But some people are questioning this kind of labelling, asking if it is right to dismiss your enemies as cowards, especially one in this case that has fought the world’s most powerful military to a draw, if not a possible retreat.
Can you really call the Taliban who go to war wearing robes, sandals and turbans and armed with assault rifles, rocket propelled grenades and whatever else they can lay their hands on as cowards, asks NightWatch, an intelligence firm that produces regular assessments. They are fighting an army that comes with the most advanced equipment in the history of warfare – body armour, tanks and armoured fighting vehicles, backed by helicopter gunships, artillery and surveillance aircraft.
And above all, the drones – the unmanned aircraft that hover over the skies for hours at a stretch beaming back high resolution pictures down to the numbers on the license plate of pick-ups that the Taliban use in the mountains that straddle Afghanistan and Pakistan. And these unmanned planes are being remotely controlled all the way from the United States.