From Guerrilla to Maneuver Warfare: A Look at the Taliban’s Growing Combat Capability


The growing territorial reach exercised by the Taliban poses a notable threat to the stability of the Afghan government. The insurgents’ persistence and adaptability points to an underappreciated trend.
As in many long-term conflicts, the adaptability of the warring factions becomes a deciding factor. The resilience and ability to respond to changes in an enemy’s force factors can alter the strategic outcomes dramatically.

Alex Worsnop of the Modern War Institute at West Point recently published his views on the Taliban’s growing capability.

Well-designed training programs are the first step in the Taliban’s adaptability according to Worsnop.
Preparation for complex military operations rather than one of a kind guerrilla operation may be the next phase of the Taliban’s evolving strategy.

The ability to present operations in training in as realistic manner as possible is within the scope of the new Taliban training.

Finally, there is a focus on training and deploying units that blend veterans and new recruits in a coherent unit that has been trained realistically.

Worsnop notes “Beyond helping us to understand increasing Taliban capabilities, this tactical adaptation, implemented through training, underscores the potential for the Taliban to employ new forms of combat. What separated the Taliban from other mujahedeen in the 1990s was its ability to consistently conduct large-unit operations by moving quickly and combining arms with the use of “technicals”—essentially pickups with machine guns or heavy weapons bolted onto the back. This was supported by a required two months of small- and large-unit training, often led by Pakistani advisors.”

You may review Alex’s well written treatise at Modern War Institute

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