Saturday, February 13, 2010

Major Afghanistan offensive 'launched in Marjah'


Thousands of American and Afghan troops have launched the biggest offensive in Afghanistan since the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001, the US military says.

Helicopter-borne US marines and Afghan troops are attacking the Taliban-held town of Marjah in Nad Ali district in a bid to re-establish government control.

Nato says Marjah is home to the biggest community under insurgent control in the south and 400 to 1,000 militants.

Many residents fled ahead of Operation Moshtarak - meaning "together" in Dari.

Nato had distributed leaflets in the Marjah area warning of the planned offensive in a bid to limit civilian casualties. Villagers said they warned Taliban fighters to leave the area or be killed.

On Friday, British forces began a "softening up" process, taking part in a Nato ground and air offensive in Helmand province.

'First wave'

Operation Moshtarak will be led by the US Marine Corps, but British troops will also be involved, supported by Danes and Estonians. Some reports say more than 15,000 troops in total will be sent to the area. The initial offensive in Marjah on Saturday saw more than 4,000 US marines, 1,500 Afghan soldiers and 300 US soldiers move in by helicopter under cover of night.

The assault was preceded by illumination flares, which were fired over the town at about 0200 (2130 GMT), the Associated Press reported.

"The first wave of choppers has landed inside Marjah. The operation has begun," said Capt Joshua Winfrey, commander of Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, which was at the forefront of the attack.

For the first time Afghan forces have been at the forefront of planning and will share the burden of the fighting. Afghan police will provide support after the initial military operations end.

Once the area is secured, Nato hopes to provide aid and to restore public services in the area. The aim, the alliance says, is to win support among the estimated 125,000 people who live there and prevent the Taliban from regaining control.



    The map shows other provinces have more opium growing areas.

  2. This whole operations reminds me of the British military invasion of the US in the 1770s. Sure you can bring in better technology, better supply line, more men, better training etc. But like Rome and the British in the American Revolution we simply cant afford to keep doing and the "revolutionaries" will melt away and back at low to no cost while we are pouring billions into a zero return investment. Invaders are almost never successful.