Pakistan Army assault on Warziristan Taliban forces begins
Apparently we’re looking at three columns of troops, about 30K in number, with air and artillery support against somewhere between 10 to 25K Taliban and allied groups. The army has said that they figure everyone in the area is Taliban or supporters since everyone else should have left, but al-Jazeera is noting that the population is about 500K, and only 150K or so have left.
The obvious model for the Taliban to use is the Hezbollah model, so successful against the Israelis during the last Israeli attack on Lebanon. However Pakistan forces are a lot more willing to take losses than Israelis, and I can’t imagine the Taliban have the discipline, iron-clad secrecy, and technical chops of Hezbollah. Let alone years to build up a bunker/comm/tunnel network.
That said, if I were the Taliban and I’d decided to fight, certainly I would be trying to copy Hezbollah. Heavy heavy dig in, well camouflaged. They have to blunt the enemy’s air power, channel them into killing fields, and make it into a morale battle (the one place where they had better have an advantage, if they hope to have a chance in hell of winning.)
The army stating they consider everyone remaining a Talib or a supporter means they don’t intend to let the Taliban go to ground in the population—they’ll kill civilians if necessary.
Isolate – concentrate – annihilate. The anti-guerrilla playbook.
We’ll see if the Taliban is playing by that book.
My bet is on the army, at least for the duration of the operation (they’ll get cut up by pinprick attacks later). But if they lose the operation outright, it will be fascinating.