Eavesdropping on cell phone conversations will never produce better information on a person than meeting the eavesdropee in person and becoming friends. In Afghanistan, American intelligence Is doing plenty of eavesdropping and little friend-making.
Most personal contact of Afghans with Americans consists of having a boot shoved against their back and their face shoved in the dirt. Afghans don’t consider this a polite conversation starter.
In a social situation where boots were not used to gain entry into a house, few Americans know enough Dario, Pashto or even Urdu to carry a conversation of a three year-old.
Mao Tse Tung said, a guerilla is like fish swimming in the ocean. The Taliban swims in the ocean of people in plain sight of American soldiers. The Americans see the ocean but not the fish. The more disturbance they create, the less fish is seen.
The best information of what goes on in the Taliban Ocean comes from kidnapped journalists who have been released after spending time with their captors.
First of all, the journalists been treated reasonably well. They are fed, given blankets. Ocasionally they are even provided with English language newspapers. In most reported cases, prisoners and guards had developed some sort of human contact.
For security reasons prisoners are moved around. This indicates to what extent the Taliban controls the countryside.
The people know who the Taliban soldiers and officials are and where they live. This information doesn’t reach the eavesdroppers nor the heavy booted soldiers, nor Las Vegas drone pilots.
As we have learned in France, Russia, Yugoslavia, China, Kenya, Malaya, Vietnam, Laos, Algeria, the outcome of the guerilla war (Insurgency) can be predicted well in advance of the final belic result.
Thanks to abuses to the local populations during WWII, In France, Russia and Yugoslavia, strong guerilla forces rose against the Germans. Information flowed one way—toward the guerillas.
In Kenya, one of the few guerilla conflicts of the past half century where The insurgency failed, there was adequate flow of information on Mau-Mau activities and hideouts for the Kikuyu and Swahili speaking police to take effective action. The British Army played only a supporting role.
In Vietnam, by the end of 1968, it was evident that the Viet Cong and the North Vietnam Army had complete control of the countryside and information had stopped flowing toward the South Vietnamese Army.
In Afghanistan, we have a situation like that in 1968 Vietnam, but much worse.
In 1968 Vietnam, an American soldier could walk unarmed in the streets of Saigon, Danang, Pleiku, Nha Trang, Vung Tao. He could sit in an outdoor café, have a coffee or a beer.
In 2009 Afghanistan, the best an American soldier can do is hunker in his bunker.