Tactics Change

The heavy reliance on airpower to battle the resurgent Taliban and al Qaeda forces in Afghanistan has prompted the insurgents to change their tactics, according to American military leaders in the theater, reports USA Today. Brig. Gen. Michael Holmes, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing commander, said that insurgent communications coalition forces have intercepted have shown the effect of airpower. In one such communication, insurgents could be heard halting an ambush, saying: “No, stop. The birds are back.” Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell told USA Today that the insurgents know “how long it takes for close air support to arrive”—usually within minutes—and have begun to time their actions accordingly. The USA Today report notes conflicting views over whether this shift in tactics will limit the use of airpower in the future. However, with the planned addition of a large number of ground troops (see below), airpower usage most likely will go up to support the increased ground efforts.