The US war in Afghanistan has lasted more than a decade. The war has cost American taxpayer hundreds of billions of dollars. When the US army invaded Afghanistan in 2001, nobody foresaw that the war would last as long as it has. Failure of the US army to achieve its objective is due to a combination of wrong strategic approach and underestimating the insurgents. In military warfare, the military may use attrition or maneuver minded strategy to subdue the enemy. In attrition strategy, the military usually attempts to subdue the enemy by wearing down the enemy through a continuous attack on the enemy’s personnel and resources. Attrition leads to a contracted war, which leads to huge losses of lives and property. This is because the military makes use of its sheer numbers to win the war. In the maneuver-minded strategy, the military attempts to subdue the enemy by incapacitating their decision-making and movement. Maneuver minded strategy requires the military to make use of its intelligence and military capabilities (Luttwak, 2001).
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In the Afghan war, the US army initially used the maneuver-minded strategy. The military strived to incapacitate the decision-making skills of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda by bombing their command and control centers, logistical bases, and assets. Attack of the command and control centers of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda made the leadership of the terrorist group retreat to the Tora Bora Mountains near the border with Pakistan. The military pursued the terrorist group into the mountains and bombed the mountains for days. This strategy would have resulted in the death of the leadership of the terrorist group (Keravuori, 2011). This would have incapacitated their decision-making abilities leading to their defeat and capture.
Effective application of the maneuver-minded strategy requires the military to have a clear understanding of the inner workings of the enemy. This necessitates the military to make use of intelligence (Luttwak, 2001). The American Army used information from its intelligence network to attack key centers of the Taliban using speed, flexibility, and surprise in order to bring an end to end the war with minimal casualties. However, use of this strategy did not bring the desired results. However, this strategy did not bring the expected results. The insurgents dispersed into remote areas and operated in small groups. The insurgents carried out attacks on the military and returned to the remote areas.
The ability of the insurgents to redeploy quickly and discretely was one of the major factors that limited the success of the US military in using the maneuver-minded strategy to subdue the enemy. Military intelligence was unable to determine correctly the activities of the insurgents. In addition, dispersion of the military in the remote location made it difficult for the military to pursue the insurgents (Keravuori, 2011). This is because the insurgents had better knowledge of the terrain and could blend in with civilians.
The above problems limited the efficiency of the strategy of the US Army in decimating the Taliban. The military thought they would take very little time to decimate the Taliban and start the process of peace building. However, failure to decimate the Taliban led to a protracted war that resulted in huge losses in lives on both sides (Keravuori, 2011). The Afghan war highlights the importance of using the right strategy in decimating the enemy. Using the right strategy would have led to a swift defeat of the enemy and saved hundreds of billions of dollars that the American taxpayer has lost due to the war.
Keravuori, R.L. (2011). Lost in translation: The American way of war. Small Wars Journal. Web.
Luttwak, E. (2001). Strategy: The logic of war and peace. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.