Designed to spread terror across the most densely populated areas of this province, the militants' ramped-up battle plan is a response to the impending surge of U.S. troops and retrenching of other forces here.
After two weeks of interviews with Taliban, close observers and Afghan government officials from some of the province's most troubled districts, a picture emerges of what to expect from what may be the most intense fighting season in years – and places nervous civilians squarely in the crosshairs.
"We have new plans, new tactics," a Taliban logistics director based in the volatile Panjwai district says. He recently returned from high-level meetings with militant commanders in Quetta, Pakistan, and spoke about plans on condition his name remains unpublished.
"The new strategy of fighting is very important for us," he said. "It will be very dangerous for the government and for foreign troops."
Central to the summer strategy is a two-pronged terror campaign currently being mapped out by Taliban planners in a mountain refuge in northern Maywand district. The area links Afghanistan's Helmand and Kandahar provinces and is poised to become a focal point of the war when U.S. troops deploy there.
Their plan will be carried out by young fighters who, in recent weeks, have been trickling into the notorious rural areas west of Kandahar city, armed with new machine guns and sustained by villagers' donations of dry bread and watery yogurt.
When their commanders give the green light, these young militants, mainly between 18 and 30 years old, will instigate clashes on two fronts: the first will be across rural areas west of the city – the traditional summer battlefields for militants clashing with coalition troops. The second will be in urban Kandahar city, home to key provincial government offices and a hub for Canadian troops.
Out-powered in rural areas by military weaponry, fighters there will carry machine guns and attempt to sharpen the results of their ambushes, but they will rely more on land mines and improvised explosive devices, sources say.