Wall Street Journal : Taliban to take a leaf from Vietnam..Tet 2.0.?


Book Reviewer
For those barely shaving on here, the Tet offensive took place in South Vietnam in 1968.

TV images of US marines and MPs storming their own Embassy in Saigon thought to have had a significant impact on hastening US withdrawal , even though militarily Tet was a disaster for the VietCong and North Vietnam seriously debated withdrawing support following its failure.

Taliban Evoke a Vietnam Flashback - WSJ.com

North Vietnamese army documents show that Hanoi wasn't looking for a propaganda victory when, on Jan. 31, 1968, it began a series of attacks on over 100 targets across South Vietnam. Instead, officials sought to spark a popular uprising against the South's government, said Mark Moyar, a Vietnam War historian who has advised commanders in Afghanistan.

No such thing happened, and most attacks were repelled. But fierce combat in the South Vietnamese city of Hue, lasting for weeks, and an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Saigon prompted the news media to portray the offensive as a major U.S. setback. Many Americans were convinced that North Vietnam was stronger than U.S. officials had admitted.

Since then, the Tet Offensive has become part of the scar tissue of the American military.

U.S. concerns about Tet-like attacks in Afghanistan come as the domestic political debate appears vulnerable to a Tet-like public reaction. President Barack Obama is facing calls from the left and the right to speed the drawdown of U.S. troops. Many in the military want to give forces more time to consolidate recent gains.

If Taliban attacks make the war effort appear to be failing, pressure to pull U.S. forces out more rapidly could grow. Military officers hope that by talking about their fears of Tet 2.0, they can inoculate the American public by showing that high-profile attacks aren't likely to turn the tide of the war. Officers believe the insurgents' spring offensive has had limited military impact.

Taliban commanders, in interviews, make clear they design attacks hoping to sap American's will to fight. "The enemy has to be confronted by both physical and psychological war," said Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban spokesman.

Mr. Barakatullah said his fighters are looking to hit U.S. military and Afghan government installations in urban areas in part to gain attention that could sap the morale of Afghan and U.S. forces
Also chimes with USFOR lack of trust for ANSF allies: during Tet, Vietcong disguised as South Vietnamese Air Force infiltrated USAF base ( and executed a number of USAF personnel
I suppose aproblem with a Tet-like jobbie would be a sizeable chunk of the Taliban (to my knowledge) enlist for the pay, which is higher than the average Afghan's wage. Does Johnny taliban want to stop the safer (for them) opportunistic IED-ing of ISAF and engage ISAF in fighting which will likely result a much higher mortality rate for him? Time's on their side, and they know it. They're aware that full scale warfare is unwinnable for them (they've known that since Ivan had a go, and he was a damn sight more ruthless than ISAF), they're just sticking to the plan.
Aren't there also accusations that the Tet Offensive was used to bleed the Southern Vietnamese pinkos white to ensure total Northern dominance when a unified Vietnam came about?
As CC said can't see it being in the Taliban's interests to risk it, just because it worked once, it could just as well harden the Americans stance with Obama possibly not wanting to be the President who 'lost' Afghanistan or could simply lead to the Talibs getting an absolute hammering and cost them the men and equipment they need for having a crack at the ANA when the West buggers off.


Book Reviewer
funny old world when the Wall Street Journal predicts something , which gets pooh-poohed by military experts ...and then comes to pass......

Life imitating art ? Or shrewd observation ?

A friend of mine has a son working in Kabul - she was bricking it yesterday when the phonelines stopped.........it will be instructive to see how this bears on the proposed peace talks in Qatar.....

SOURCE -( also Telegraph, Times. D Mail etc )

Taliban target NATO, US embassy in Kabul Usman Sharifi
September 13, 2011

Agence France Presse (AFP)

Taliban gunmen armed with suicide bombs and heavy weaponry on Tuesday launched coordinated attacks in Kabul, targeting NATO's headquarters, the US embassy and the Afghan intelligence agency.

About three hours after the attack began, gunbattles were still ongoing.

The Afghan government confirmed the deaths of one policeman and two insurgents, and said that up to four militants were still resisting.

Advertisement: Story continues below Two suicide attacks also struck police in what is usually the most heavily protected part of the capital, with a Taliban insurgency at its deadliest since US-led troops ousted the Islamists' regime after the September 11 attacks 10 years ago.

Any simultaneous attacks that succeeded in hitting NATO headquarters, the US embassy and Afghan intelligence would be the Taliban's most ambitious commando-style operation yet in their fight to evict the Kabul government and defeat Western troops.

In any case, the attacks underscored plummeting security in Kabul, where insurgents have staged increasingly brazen commando-style raids on Western targets in recent years, most recently on the British Council last month.

Agence France-Presse reporters heard a string of loud blasts shortly after 1.30pm (1900 AEST).

"ISAF HQ is under attack at the moment," a Western military official earlier confirmed as terrified residents and shopkeepers told how they dived for cover.

The US embassy - one of the largest American diplomatic missions in the world, one of the most heavily protected compounds in Afghanistan and home to hundreds of diplomats - confirmed only an attack "in the area".

"There are no casualties at this time among embassy personnel," added spokeswoman Kerri Hannan in an emailed statement, providing no further details.

Afghan interior ministry spokesman Siddiq Siddiqui told AFP that two attackers were killed while "three or four are still resisting".

"A clearance operation is ongoing. So far one policeman has been martyred," he said, adding that five civilians had also been wounded.

Afghan police and soldiers attempting to approach the Abdul Haq roundabout about half a kilometre from the NATO base were retreating under a volley of mortar rounds, gunfire and explosions, an AFP reporter said.

The US-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) later confirmed it was responding and providing "air support" but reported no casualties.

In Brussels, NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen initially said he was confident that Afghan forces, who officially control security in Kabul, could deal with the ongoing assault.

Afghan officials said two separate suicide attacks targeted police, one near parliament and both in the western part of the capital on Tuesday, which would suggest that up to eight attackers were involved in the Kabul assaults.

Three policemen were wounded in those attacks, the interior ministry said.

A Taliban spokesman told AFP by text message that the targets were ISAF headquarters, the US embassy and Afghanistan's intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security (NDS) and other "sensitive government places".

Afghan officials said four attackers wearing suicide vests and carrying guns were hunkered down in a multi-storey building under construction, exchanging fire with security forces as two helicopters flew overhead.

"Today at one o'clock at Kabul's Abdul Haq roundabout a massive suicide attack on local and foreign intelligence facilities is ongoing," wrote Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid in the text message to AFP.

The ISAF headquarters in Kabul oversees the operations of the bulk of the estimated 140,000 foreign troops fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan.

"I was sitting in my shop when suddenly I heard an explosion and then another one. Then there was gunfire," said Abdulbaqi, a local shopkeeper.

"People on the streets started running. I had to leave my shop to get to safety," he added.

Cars were left on deserted streets, while open shops had been abandoned as sporadic gunfire burst out.

Officially, Kabul is under the control of Afghan security forces, along with most of its surrounding province and six other parts of the country handed over by NATO-led troops in July as part of a staggered, timetabled withdrawal.

But in June, Taliban militants also stormed the luxury Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, sparking a fierce battle that left at least 12 people dead.

The US military has blamed some of the worst attacks on the al-Qaeda-linked Haqqani network, whose leadership is based in neighbouring Pakistan and enjoys the protection of Pakistani intelligence agents


Book Reviewer
...and the Reuters piece today:


(Reuters) - A marathon siege in Kabul's diplomatic enclave ended on Wednesday with the death of the last two of a group of gunmen who had held off Western and Afghan security forces for nearly 20 hours, showering rockets on Western embassies in a dramatic show of insurgent strength.

It was the longest and most audacious militant attack on the Afghan capital in the decade since the Taliban were ousted from power and a stark reminder of insurgents' resources and reach as Western forces start to return home.

At least 11 civilians were killed, three of them children, NATO-led foreign forces said. The Ministry of the Interior said four policemen died, and that toll was likely to rise.

U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker said about six or seven rockets had hit inside the embassy perimeter during the early hours of the attack, launched early on Tuesday afternoon, but said the range meant they had not posed a serious threat.

"They were firing from at least 800 meters away and with an RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) that's harassment. That's not an attack," he said in an interview transcript handed out to journalists in Kabul.

The insurgents had holed up in a multi-storey building still under construction and launched their attack by firing rockets toward the U.S. and other embassies and the headquarters of NATO-led foreign forces.

Three suicide bombers also targeted police buildings in other parts of the city, but the embassy district assault was the most spectacular (more)


Book Reviewer
Yeah......vivid memory from my childhood of a very young Martin Bell reporting from Saigon during Tet clutching one of those old style OB mikes ........ according to Robert Mcnamara , following Tet, Gen Westmoreland asked for a further 50,000 troops to press home what he saw as the U.S military advantage.

The response was along the lines

" General, if you can't win this war with 450,000 men what makes you think you can win it with half a million ? "

Michael Yon busily describing it as a nuisance raid of no military significance......... on y voit......


Book Reviewer
Now I feel really old. I wonder how much they bribed the guy for planning permission to put a high building overlooking the site. Or is that too much farsightedness even for a long game as Afghanistan?