If you can’t fight the weapons, kill their operators


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.



  1. I don't think the Afghans left behind will be as courageous as the South Vietnamese that were left to fend for themselves after the cowardly Democrats sold them out to the Communists.

  2. Well, that inability to defeat can be attributed in a large part to asinine ROE. The U.S. fedgov has not been 'in it to win it' since when, WWII?

  3. "Some officials believe offering an exit strategy for elite Afghan troops could accelerate a feared collapse"


    "No illegitimate government or regime can survive without bully-boys to inflict its will upon the populace."

    Suggesting that the Taliban was a legitimate government? I tend to think the Afghan's don't want to be free. They could, at any time, have stepped up to the plate and done what was needed. They had the perfect opportunity with a US-led coalition to suppress the Taliban and a relatively democratic (by Afghani standards) government to support them. They chose to do nothing. I have little to no sympathy. Future policy towards Afghanistan should be hands-off: no foreign aid, a complete boycott of any military weapons systems, and harsh reprisals against any terrorist activity sourced out of the country.

  4. The Taliban also inflicted heavy Marine aviation casualties, the heaviest since WW2 at Camp Bastion with a small strike force.

    Took out 8 Harriers and a C130 in fact.

    We were able to deploy 14 additional Harriers but that was a huge blow, as I understand it the largest since WW2.

    1. As I recall, that attack also killed the highest-ranking man KIA in that conflict. The base commander (?Brig Gen?) went out with his pistol to defend the flight line.
      John in Indy

  5. Killing enemies who try to surrender will motivate the rest to fight to the death. Don't give them the courage of despair.

  6. "I said years ago that there was no military solution to the USA's conflict in Afghanistan."

    Yes tbere was a military solution in Afghanistan all along, it just wasn't one that the all wise all knowing prissies in the Pentagon and State Department would adopt. The solution was never to turn Astan into a democracy with trillions in infrastructure etc… The solution was to pay and support the Afghans to kill the Taliban in their own way– brutally and mercilessly. Time and again the tribes came to our SFs and spooks and asked for simple support in annihilating the Talib in their tribal areas and WE SAID NO. That's hard fact. Too messy, too much risk of bad publicity. Not enough money in it for connected contractors. The Pentagon and defense contractors wanted and liked a messy ambiguous war that poured hundreds of billions of dollars through their hands. They got rich. Our soldiers died. They could care less.

    So let's stop pretending there wasn't a path to victory. We just don't want victory. Not enough graft in it, not enough virtue signaling, and it hurts our illusions that the world can be puppies and ponies if we say so.

  7. Another tactic is general national strikes. If the Oligarchs aren't careful it would be all too easy for the truckers, fir example, to simply refuse deliveries of food and fuel to Blue metropolitan areas. No way the military can keep that many people in so many areas fed and fueled. Heck, some truckers already refuse to go to parts of Portland and Seattle.

  8. I find you wrong seldom.

    In the war in the stan it wasn't that we were fighting the taliban and losing. We, like Rome, were fighting a religion and there is no winning a religious war short of total genocide. It was stupid to think we could shape the hearts and minds of the people who killed the Lion of the North and those that supported them.

    Clue stick, roughly 80% of muslims worldwide believe death is the appropriate punishment for apostaphy.

  9. Afghanistan was never really meant to be won. Ever.

    Why, you ask? Simple: The Taliban were and are a wholly owned and operated subsidiary of the ISI, the Pakistani intelligence agency that's actually the shadow government of Pakistan. This is something we knew–It was always the deal. They set up, they sponsored, they trained, they supplied the Taliban. We paid them fungible military aid, and never once addressed this issue.

    That's the tell.

    Counterinsurgency 101 is you first isolate the battlefield, interdicting it from outside support. Did we do that? Nope. Why not?

    Simple: Afghanistan was never a war or a counterinsurgency. It was a shell game, intended to transfer money from our foreign/military aid programs to select members of Congress through their relatives, kickbacks from the Pakistanis, and contracts for military materials. There was never any intent to eliminate the Taliban, and that wouldn't have mattered a bit, anyway–The real center of gravity was in the ISI offices, some of which were not all that far from where Osama bin Laden was hiding out in Abbottabad. The Pakistanis knew about 9/11, or the Taliban running Afghanistan in 2001 wouldn't have mandated that al Qaeda kill Ahmad Shah Massoud first as a precondition to launching the hijackings.

    This has always, always been a scam. It's only now that I can really see that fact. I'll lay you long odds that there are bipartisan "beneficiaries" of kickbacks and contracts to family members of sitting Congressmen, just like in Ukraine. And, now that the money train is over, we're finally pulling out.

    Afghanistan has been a mechanism by which select people got to loot the Treasury in the name of fighting terrorism. Why else would Wasserman-Schultz have had that Pakistani IT team working for her and the Democratic caucus in Congress? Connect the dots, folks: We've been had.

  10. One of the things economics can teach one is that the global economy is a very fragile thing, as is any complex system. Take away one seemingly unimportant yet critical part – say, for example, pilots to fly expensive high tech helicopters and airplanes or the mechanics to service the same – and suddenly you have no air capability.

    The reality is that a complex country is no different – deprive it of tax revenue, or electricity, or the movement of goods, and it will rapidly collapse.

  11. Our problems with various theaters of conflict always seem to me to boil down to;

    We won’t leave once we’ve wrecked the government we were angry with, saying, “Don’t bother us again, or we’ll be back.”


    We won’t institute an actual Colonial government, fully under our control, instead trying to work through ‘legitimate’ local government, which is like trying to knit while holding the needles in tongs.

  12. Forcing a centralized government in a tribal society without heavy repression does not work. A federal solution would have been a better choice.

    Great point takirks on Pakistan and the ISI.

    Another huge issue was corruption.

    The latest volume if “there will be war” had a story about killing / threatening the drone operators, or was it there their families.

  13. @favill;
    you still haven't figured out it was the MIC running that war, they really learned how long you can drag out a war and make money, it was a blueprint for the War on Terror.
    It was the Uniparty, as always, running this corrupt gov't and not just the Dems.

    too many patrio mental midgets still buying into the media lies, A'stan has always been about military aid, drugs, mining, bakshish, etc. You nailed it.

  14. Money quote…..

    That Afghan official and two others, speaking on condition of anonymity,

    Bwahahaha. Must not just be pilots who are being eliminated.

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