Hit-and-Run Tactics Keeping Taliban Afloat

'Asymmetrical' warfare has casualties down, hopes of prevailing up
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted May 2, 2008 8:29 PM CDT
The Taliban has changed tactics in their Afghanistan rebellion, moving from set-piece offensives to a hit-and-run style that cuts its casualties while boosting hopes it can outlast NATO troops.   (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder, File)
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(Newser) – The Taliban might hope Sunday's brazen attack on Afghan president Hamid Karzai signaled a new age of potency for the rebels. But although deaths from Taliban violence are on the rise, the Economist argues, the organization has not grown substantially—it has shifted its strategy away from conventional firefights to the “asymmetrical” warfare used by militants in Iraq and Israel.

The Taliban has embraced roadside and other bombings—which accounted for 80% of casualties last month, compared to 44% a year earlier. Such tactics strongly affect public opinion while costing less in life and resources than traditional warfare—in  firefights, it was estimated the Taliban lost 15 fighters for every NATO soldier killed—thus raising hopes it can outlast the Western occupiers.