This is a tactic that’s been used throughout the world by allegedly overmatched forces (usually guerrillas or terrorists) against their allegedly more capable opponents (usually government or establishment forces). It’s playing out again in Afghanistan right now.
At least seven Afghan pilots … have been assassinated off base in recent months, according to two senior Afghan government officials. This series of targeted killings, which haven’t been previously reported, illustrate what U.S. and Afghan officials believe is a deliberate Taliban effort to destroy one of Afghanistan’s most valuable military assets: its corps of U.S.- and NATO-trained military pilots.
In so doing, the Taliban — who have no air force — are looking to level the playing field as they press major ground offensives.
. . .
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed the group had killed Zamaray, and that it had started a program that will see Afghan Air Force pilots “targeted and eliminated because all of them do bombardment against their people.”
. . .
Afghan military pilots are particularly attractive assassination targets, current and former U.S. and Afghan officials say. They can strike Taliban forces massing for major attacks, shuttle commandos to missions and provide life-saving air cover for Afghan ground troops. Pilots take years to train and are hard to replace, representing an outsized blow to the country’s defenses with every loss.
. . .
Although Taliban assassinations of pilots have happened in years past, the recent killings take on greater significance as the Afghan Air Force is tested like never before.
Just last week, U.S. forces left America’s main military bastion in Afghanistan, Bagram Air Base outside Kabul, as they complete their withdrawal from the country 20 years after ousting the Taliban following the Al Qaeda attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
“Pilots are on top of the Taliban’s hit list,” the senior Afghan government official said.
That Afghan official and two others, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they’re working to protect pilots and their families, moving some to on-base housing and relocating others to safer civilian neighborhoods.
. . .
Washington is moving to evacuate interpreters who worked for the U.S. military, but it’s unclear if the Biden administration would risk doing the same for Afghan forces, like pilots. Some officials believe offering an exit strategy for elite Afghan troops could accelerate a feared collapse following the U.S. withdrawal.
. . .
It wasn’t just Taliban death threats against him and his family that drove decorated Afghan helicopter pilot Major Naiem Asadi out of Afghanistan. Asadi said the Afghan Air Force had failed to do enough to protect pilots vulnerable to off-base assassinations.
“They spend a lot of money on (the training) of these pilots, but they can’t spend any money on the pilots for their security,” Asadi told Reuters in an interview, after arriving in New Jersey in June to start his bid for asylum.
There’s more at the link. Recommended reading.
That’s why President Biden’s remark about needing F-15’s and nukes to resist the government was so stupid. I’ve seen the same dynamic in operation in a lot more than one country. No illegitimate government or regime can survive without bully-boys to inflict its will upon the populace. They may be well-trained and well-equipped… but when push comes to shove, if you target those who are trained to operate the tools of oppression, and their families, the oppression itself must ultimately lose ground, because you can’t protect all of them all of the time. Lose enough of them, and kill those who want to surrender, and the rest will get the message and take steps to remove themselves and their loved ones from danger. Nor is it limited to military personnel. Police, too, can and will be targeted if they are seen as oppressors rather than protectors. I saw that in apartheid South Africa, and it’s happening there again today.
I said years ago that there was no military solution to the USA’s conflict in Afghanistan. We’re now in the process of demonstrating that by pulling our forces out of that country, just as the Soviet Union was forced to do in 1989. We’ve suffered yet another military defeat, because we found we could not defeat a highly motivated insurgency using superior technology. As Mao Zedong famously (and accurately) said, “The guerrilla must move amongst the people as a fish swims in the sea”. That’s exactly what the Taliban have done – and now they’re on the verge of seizing control of Afghanistan for the second time in thirty years.
I would not like to be a pro-Western Afghani in that country right now, much less one who’s worked for or with, or supported, US and Coalition forces there. They’re staring down the barrel of a death sentence… and we can and/or will do little or nothing to help them.