British foreign secretary David Miliband’s hope for a “winter lull” in Afghanistan has proved to be hopelessly optimistic.
Miliband wanted to use the harsh winter months, when the fighting traditionally dies down, as a chance to send in more troops – part of the new “surge” strategy that involves doubling the number of foreign troops in Afghanistan.
The war is not going well for the British.
In the first two weeks of January some 11 foreign sodiers have been killed, including two British troops.
Now there is a growing realisation that the resistance has recruited vast numbers of young local fighters who are using new tactics to strike at foreign troops.
According to the Independent newspaper, British troops are suffering huge numbers of casualties as the resistance is now operating on a “year round basis”.
US soldiers who are being transferred from Iraq are also finding the tactics and equipment they use to fight Iraqi insurgents don’t work in Afghanistan’s vast and rough terrain.
The nature of the battles have also changed.
The Afghan insurgency – that is comprised of many forces including the Taliban – is prepared for battles that last between eight hours to two weeks at a time.
These fights, which are taking a heavy toll on the occupation, have shattered the illusion that the insurgency could be defeated by spreading the war to the tribal areas of northern Pakistan.
Last week the Afghan resistance joined local insurgents in a huge attack on a Pakistani army base along the border.
The US has been putting pressure on Pakistan’s government to launch an offensive on the border region as Nato feared that its supply routes through the strategic Khyber Pass would be cut off.
The latest round of fighting confirms widespread pessimism among the occupying forces that after seven years of war the occupation is facing defeat.