Taliban still supported in Pakistan: Ex-Pentagon official
WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): As recent attacks in Kabul and Khost bore the Haqqani network’s signatures, a former top Pentagon official has alleged the Taliban continued to receive financial and logistical support from Pakistan.
“The attacks in Kabul and Khost, to me, bore all the signatures of the Haqqani Network, a Taliban group resident in Pakistan and with long-standing ties to Pakistan’s intelligence services,” David S. Sedney, a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia from 2009-2013, told lawmakers during a Congressional hearing this week.
He said the large amounts of weapons and explosives used by the Taliban throughout Afghanistan showed they had financing and logistics infrastructure to move the military equipment from their depots and supply chains in Pakistan to wherever needed in Afghanistan.
In his testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, Sedney said: “Beyond equipment from Pakistani sources, fighters from Pakistan – in most cases ethnic Pashtuns educated in jihad in extremist mosques in areas of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan – were widely used in some of the Taliban offensives.”
“While some of these fighters are from Afghan families that fled Afghanistan in past decades, they generally were born and raised in Pakistan and often made their first trip to Afghanistan in order to fight or to carry out suicide attacks,” he said.
Sedney said beyond the increased breadth and intensity of the Taliban attacks, perhaps most worrying for the 2016 fighting season “is an evolution in the tactics, techniques and procedures used by the Taliban forces.”
“As described to me by multiple sources, the Taliban for the first time in over a decade began using massed forces – beginning with scores of fighters, then hundreds in some of their operations,” he noted.
“The Taliban offensives included use of Uzbek and other foreign fighters as “shock troops,” the Taliban version of Special Forces, a technique they used in their offensives of the late 1990s, but had rarely employed in recent years.
These foreign forces were key to the October battle for the northern city of Kunduz. The Taliban also seemed better armed and better financed then in the past, according to many of those I spoke with,” he said.
Sydney said the Afghan forces will be at this disadvantage facing a well-armed, well-financed Taliban that will, as it has for the past 14 years, have spent the winter refitting in Pakistan, holding senior level planning meetings there, and coming up with their strategy and campaign plan for 2016.
“When that new campaign plan is announced, typically in the spring, my fear is that rather than a status quo title and goal, like this year’s “Perseverance,” the Taliban’s next offensive will reflect their success of the past year and aim to take over parts of Afghanistan,” he said.
“That will be hard to do, as the Afghan forces remain capable and motivated. I do not believe the Taliban will succeed in 2016. But, in the absence of needed enablers and with US forces restricted from providing effective enabler assistance, the Taliban’s ability to, at a minimum, kill more Afghan civilians and security forces will be greater next year than this year,” Sydney said.
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