Adversaries Use American Virtues as Weapons

As noted in earlier discussions about accusations of religious impropriety, American adversaries have begun to wage effective combat operations by using American virtues against US forces.  In the most recent example, a somewhat overly pessimistic Op-Ed in the New York Times says the Taliban have “beaten American airpower”–a dramatic claim, given that the Taliban has no Air Force or even an anti-air capability.  But, according to the author, the Taliban have found a “non-military” way to “beat” American airpower: 

The Taliban have found a way to beat American airpower. And they have managed this remarkable feat with American help…

American and NATO military leaders — worried by Taliban propaganda claiming that air strikes have killed an inordinate number of civilians, and persuaded by “hearts and minds” enthusiasts that the key to winning the war is the Afghan population’s goodwill — have largely relinquished the strategic advantage of American air dominance.

Other articles have described the Taliban taking advantage of restrictive NATO rules of engagement; in some cases, firing on troops, setting down their weapons, and walking away–knowing that they cannot be considered an enemy if they are not armed.

There are certainly reasons to have ROE, as well as legitimate reasons to minimize infrastructure destruction and the risk to noncombatants.  The question, however, is at what point those increased restrictions place an undue increased risk on the military men and women fighting in those battles.

An exclusive advantage–like the supremacy of American airpower in Afghanistan, when compared to the capabilities of the Taliban–is only effective if you use it.