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February 13, 2010

Afghan Offensive Day 2

USMCAFG.jpg
USMC Photo

All reports seem to be that the operation is going well.

At least 20 Taliban fighters were killed in the first hours of the assault, said General Sher Mohammad Zazai, commander of the operation's Afghan troops.

"So far, we have killed 20 armed opposition fighters. Eleven others have been detained," he said, adding they were killed in separate engagements.

NATO commanders were "very pleased with how it has gone," senior British military spokesman Major General Gordon Messenger told a briefing in London.

"The key objective has been secured," he said, explaining that the main aims for British troops were to secure the population centres and installations such as police stations in the Chah-e Anjir Triangle northeast of Marjah.

There had been some "sporadic fighting," but the Taliban appeared to be "confused and disjointed" and unable "to put up a coherent response," he said.

The seeming lack of major fights with the Taliban may be because they simply aren't prepared to fight or perhaps they have melted away as they have before only to return later.

In the past coalition forces would take an area but then not have the forces to hold the area let alone implement the third leg of the COIN stool...build. If that's what the enemy is counting on this time, they appear to be in for a disappointment.

“We’ve got a government in a box, ready to roll in,” said Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top American commander here.

Indeed, Marja is intended to serve as a prototype for a new type of military operation, based on the counterinsurgency thinking propounded by General McChrystal in the prelude to President Obama’s decision in December to increase the number of American troops here to nearly 100,000.

More than at any time since 2001, American and NATO soldiers will focus less on killing Taliban insurgents than on sparing Afghan civilians and building an Afghan state.

“The population is not the enemy,” Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson, the commander of the Marines in southern Afghanistan, told a group of troops this week. “The population is the prize — they are why we are going in.”

To realize their goals, the Americans and their allies want to capture the area with a minimum amount of violence. American commanders say the attack on Marja is intended to be nothing like the similar size assault on the city of Falluja, Iraq, in November 2004. In that case, Falluja, under the control of hundreds of insurgents, was largely destroyed. The Americans killed plenty of guerrillas, but they did not make any friends.

“We don’t want Falluja,” General McChrystal said in an interview this week. “Falluja is not the model.”

The Times of London also has an excellent article on the offensive, including local reaction to the offensive.

As I've said before, I'm pessimistic about the ability of the coalition to make Afghanistan anything approaching a normal state but I hope I'm wrong. I don't however doubt for one second the ability of the US Marines and the rest of the American military to kick the Taliban's ass.

So far, they seem to be doing just that. Continued prayers for their success and safety.


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posted by DrewM. at 07:47 PM

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