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Pashtun Taliban Insurgency - 2014

Pakistan's military said September 03, 2014 it had killed more than 900 militants and lost 82 soldiers since June, when it launched a major counter-insurgency offensive in a volatile tribal region near the Afghan border. A military statement said it had eliminated terrorist bases from major towns of North Waziristan, including its administrative center, Miranshah. Half of the soldier deaths are said to have occurred in the anti-militancy offensive while the rest in retaliatory militant attacks in elsewhere in Pakistan. Army officials said they had also destroyed some 27 bomb making factories and seized weapons and communication equipment. The ground and air offensive had forced some 800,000 people to flee the area and take refuge in temporary shelters in northwestern Pakistani cities.

The ongoing counter-militancy army offensive, called "Zarb-e-Azb," in the North Waziristan tribal district near the Afghan border was part of efforts to rid the volatile region of local and foreign terrorists considered a threat to security on both sides of the border. By September 2014 Zarb-e-Azb was confined to an area only in the northwest. The army said the Waziristan offensive had killed about 1,000 militants. The army has suffered 80 casualties in the offensive.

In the twilight of a US-led combat mission that claimed the lives of more than 3,300 foreign troops and tens of thousands of Afghans, the Talibans military position was as strong as ever. Though the Taliban lacked the popular support that swept them into power in the early 1990s, by 2014 levels of violence in Afghanistan were higher than at any time in the war. The Taliban were inflicting staggering casualties on the Afghan security forces, who had taken over most of the fighting.

Few expected the Taliban to retake Kabul. But only the most optimistic analysts saw the Afghan security forces defeating them, something the nearly 50-nation US-led coalition failed to do in more than a decade of fighting.

The Taliban continued to test the ANSF, but failed to achieve its objectives, including disrupting both the first and second round of the Afghan presidential elections. Insurgents increasingly mounted massed, opportunistic attacks and were temporarily able to overtake remote checkpoints and a small number of district centers. They were, however, unable to hold any significant terrain and were consistently overmatched when engaged by ANSF enabled by coalition air and intelligence support. They failed to capture or destroy well-defended targets, and were unable to assume control of major population centers.

During the period April to August 2014, nationwide security incidents fell by approximately 30 percent if compared to the same period last year. However, a direct comparison with previous reporting periods was difficult to make since ISAF has become more reliant on Afghan reporting in 2014. Nonetheless, insurgents continued to sustain influence in many rural areas and continued to conduct high-profile and complex attacks against individuals, population centers, and remote outposts.

The insurgency remained resilient and continued to pose a threat to U.S. and coalition forces and Afghan civilians during the reporting period. ISAF completed the shift from combat advising to functionally based security force assistance (SFA) at the Afghan National Army (ANA) corps level and above and at the equivalent Afghan National Police (ANP) echelons. Protecting the force and countering the threat of insider attacks remained critical considerations; however, US and coalition forces continued to suffer casualties.

During period April to August 2014, the United States suffered 264 wounded-in-action (WIA) and 24 killed-in-action (KIA). Insurgents also remained responsible for most civilian casualties (CIVCAS), largely due to their sustained use of indiscriminate improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

Heavily armed Taliban gunmen assaulted the Army Public School in a highly secured part of Peshawar city on 16 December 2014. They started shooting indiscriminately - 132 of the dead were students from 12 to 16 years old, most were sons of Army officials. Nine school staff members also died in the siege, which lasted more than eight hours. More than 120 others were wounded in the assault, and more than 100 of the wounded were children. Security forces killed the attackers and saved hundreds of lives in an operation after the bloodshed began. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was in retaliation for Pakistan's offensive targeting militants in the country's northwestern tribal region, near the Afghan border.

The Afghanistan Taliban movement condemned the attack by the Pakistani Taliban. "The intentional killing of innocent people, children and women is against the basics of Islam and this criteria has to be considered by every Islamic party and government," the movements spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement as quoted by Reuters. The Pakistani Taliban is not directly affiliated with the Afghan Taliban movement.

Operations in response to insurgent violence exposed deficiencies in ANDSF operational capabilities. Leadership challenges in the ANA 215th Corps responsible for Helmand prompted several changes within both the ANA and ANP leadership in the region. Maj. Gen. Sayed Malouk, an officer groomed and mentored for years by Marine officials in Helmand, was dismissed 05 December 2014 by the ANA 215th Corps in the wake of the temporary Taliban infiltration into its headquarters in November 2014. A few dozen Taliban fighters overran the Bastion-Leatherneck-Shorabak complex in late November. Malouk had commanded the 215th Corps in Helmand for about five years.

More than 1,000 members of the Afghan National Security Forces had been killed in the last six months of 2014. Heavy losses sustained throughout the fighting season required reinforcements from neighboring ANA corps. Setbacks in Musa Qalah district in Helmand caused the ANDSF to suspend offensive operations, detracted from the momentum of counter-offensives elsewhere in the region, and highlighted ANDSF gaps in aerial fires.

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Page last modified: 22-12-2015 18:41:30 ZULU