Friday, February 5, 2010

British and US poised to launch 'overwhelming' offensive in Afghanistan

1 R WELSH soldiers on a shaping op with ANA soldiers. Pic: Maj Paul Smyth

By Thomas Harding

British and American forces are poised to launch an 'overwhelming' assault on the last remaining Taliban stronghold in Helmand, according to the UK commander leading the operation.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Major Gen Nick Carter said it would be the biggest offensive since foreign troops entered Afghanistan eight years ago.

Operation Moshtarak - or Together - will begin with more than 15,000 troops deployed for the attack. In the coming days the aim is to clear out more than 1,000 Taliban from the Marjah and Nad-e-Ali areas of central Helmand where the insurgents rule the "ungoverned space" with their strict interpretation of Sharia law.

In addition to 3,000 British soldiers being used, Special Forces has been pushed into Helmand with troopers from the SAS, SBS and Special Forces Support Group bolstering numbers already on the ground.

"Our expectation has to be that there will be people in Marjah and Nad-e-Ali who are going to stand and fight but we are going to apply a significant amount of combat power to the problem in overwhelming numbers," Major Gen Carter said at his headquarters in Kandahar.

"This operation is bigger than anything that has gone before and yes there will have to be a fight."

It is understood that the air assault will be the biggest since an entire US airborne division was lifted into the Iraqi desert in the 1991 Gulf War and will dwarf last summer's successful Operation Panther's Claw that saw 10 British soldiers killed.

In Camp Bastion men and supplies have been pouring into the base with new Apache attack helicopters off-loaded from C17 air transporters.

Transport helicopters have been gathered across Afghanistan to conduct the "break-in battle" and the sky above the base constantly resonates to the sound of rotor blades.

Villagers living in the Taliban held areas have been prepared with a leafleting campaign and contacts have been made with local elders.

However the Taliban have vowed to defend their territory that holds their bomb factories and opium processing plants.

"We will definitely defend Marjah," a Taliban commander told the New York Times. "It's the only place left for us. We have all of our fighters assembled here to fight against Afghan and foreign forces."


  1. well lets hope the locals git out,and the Taliban don't use them as shields. I wish you all well.

  2. Bomb the place flat then shoot anyone left standing.