Every year, the media are awash with talk about impeding ‘spring offensives’ by the Taliban and other insurgent groups in Afghanistan. Such offensives, however, never materialise – if only because the Taliban have learned the hard way that it is a bad idea to mass fighters for operations against NATO or the Afghan Army. Troop concentrations are invariably spotted through satellite images, unmanned reconnaissance drones or simply by ‘eyes on the ground’. And once spotted, any larger group of insurgent becomes an easy prey to counterattacks, putting any planned offensive dead in its tracks.
However, it’s true that the winter months usually bring a lull in hostile activities – if only because the central and northern parts of Afghanistan are covered in snow.
This week, it was NATO that launched what could be called a ‘spring offensive’. Some 2,000 Afghan, Canadian and US troops conducted the two-day ‘Operation Jalay’, covering several hotspots in Kandahar province – from Maywand in the west to the Arghandab north of Kandahar city. The net result according to media reports: four Canadian and one Afghan soldier killed in action; large amounts of weapons and ammunition were confiscated and five people were arrested on suspicion of being bomb makers. No numbers are available on enemy casualties – if there were any.
If you are interested in seasonal influences with regards to hostilities, have a look at the following graphs. They clearly demonstrate that in Afghanistan, the summer months of June through September are the ‘fighting season’.
Meanwhile, the huge international army and air force base at Kandahar Airfield marked a sad ‘first’ this Friday. Although the Taliban have been lobbing unguided rockets at the base for years, Friday’s attack caused the very first fatality in three years: an Afghan contractor. Six others were wounded.