How and why the Taliban won the high-tech war in Afghanistan


For the league, the situation is completely different. The Western military has indeed acquired a wide range of world-class technologies, from space surveillance to remote operating systems such as robots and drones. But for them, the war in Afghanistan is not a war of survival; it is a war of choice.Because of this, most technologies are Designed to reduce the risk of casualties Instead of achieving a complete victory. Western armies have invested a lot of money in weapons that can keep soldiers away from injuries — air power, drones — or technologies that can speed up the delivery of immediate medical care. Things that keep the enemy at a certain distance or protect soldiers from harm, such as gunship helicopters, body armor and roadside bomb detection, have always been the focus of attention in the West.

The West’s primary military priority has always been elsewhere: in the battle between great powers. For example, technically speaking, this means investing in hypersonic missiles to match Chinese or Russian missiles, or investing in military artificial intelligence to try to outsmart them.

Technology is not a driver of conflict, nor a guarantee of victory. Rather, it is a promoter.

The Afghan government, caught between the two worlds, ultimately has more in common with the Taliban than the alliance. This is not a war of choice, but a fundamental threat. However, the government was unable to make progress like the Taliban; its development was hindered because foreign troops provided the main technologically advanced force. Although the Afghan army and police did provide corpses for the battle (many lives were lost in the process), they are not yet capable of creating or even operating advanced systems on their own. Western countries are unwilling to equip Afghans with sophisticated weapons, worrying that they will not be maintained, and may even end up in the hands of the Taliban.

Take the Afghan Air Force as an example. It is equipped and trained in less than two dozen propeller aircraft. This achieves a small amount of close air support, but it is far from cutting-edge. Cooperation with the United States means that Afghanistan cannot freely find other places for technology transfer; in fact, it is stuck in a stunted stage.

So what does this tell us? It says that technology is not a driver of conflict, nor a guarantee of victory. Rather, it is a promoter. Even basic weapons can spend a day in the hands of motivated and patient people who are ready-and able-to make any progress needed.

It also tells us that tomorrow’s battlefield may look a lot like Afghanistan: we will see fewer purely technological conflicts won by the army with the greatest firepower, and more new and old technologies coexist. This is already the case in the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and we may see more of this pattern over time. Technology may no longer win the war, but innovation can—especially if one side is fighting a battle for survival.

Christopher Anxon He is a clinical associate professor of global affairs at New York University. He served in the United Nations in Europe and Asia from 2005 to 2017, and served in the Canadian Armed Forces from 1988 to 2000.Author and editor of multiple books, including Military-civilian cooperation politics And TThe future of global affairs, He holds a PhD from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Mike Martin He is a former British military officer who speaks Pashto. He has visited Afghanistan many times as a political official, advising British generals on how to deal with the war.He is now a Visiting War Research Fellow at King’s College London and author of An intimate war, Depicting the war in southern Afghanistan since 1978. He holds a doctorate from King’s College London.


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