AbstractsBusiness Management & Administration

‘The Development of the Taliban’s Information Operations and Kinetic Strategies Since 2001: A New or Classic Approach?’

by Craig Williams

Institution: Aberystwyth University
Year: 2013
Record ID: 1390732
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/2160/12006


Abstract The conflict in Afghanistan is over a decade long, yet the literature surrounding the strategies of the Taliban is distinctly lacking. A few scholars, analysts and former military personnel have dedicated chapters or articles to various Taliban strategies, however, a lot of the information appears in a diffuse state or has rapidly become outdated with the contemporary nature of the conflict. This project will therefore address two of the Taliban’s most important strategies. It will chronologically analyse the development of the information operations and the kinetic strategies of the organisation, investigating how the leadership has evolved the insurgency from an exiled group in Pakistan, into one that is able to operate and launch coordinated and sophisticated attacks in every province of Afghanistan by 2012. The importance of religion in the Taliban’s messaging will be examined, along with the evolution of dissemination techniques, going from simple word of mouth and public letters known as ‘shabnamah’, to the incorporation of technology such as DVDs, websites and mobile phone media. The investigation into the chronological progress of the Taliban’s kinetic strategies will show how they have effectively made use of denial, demoralisation, infiltration, interdiction and concentration against the Afghan and international forces. Finally, the theoretical debate of whether the Taliban is fighting a new or classic style of insurgency will be explored. It will demonstrate the futility of Hammes’ argument that the Taliban is fighting a ‘fourth generation war’, and that Liang and Xiangsui’s ‘unrestricted warfare’ is too complex for the Taliban to undertake successfully. The Taliban have adapted traditional approaches from historical Afghan conflicts into a style of warfare that best mirrors the classic strategies of a Maoist guerrilla war.