Friday, February 12, 2010

Will Afghanistan operation end the Taliban?

Channel 4 News Online

Ahead of Operation Moshtarak, the biggest military land offensive since Vietnam, Colonel Richard Kemp predicts the advance of the British army will be slow - but the operation will succeed.

We are on the eve of Operation Moshtarak, by far the largest air-ground offensive ever launched by Nato in Afghanistan.

The objective is to install an administration loyal to the Kabul government into the strategically important population centres of Marjah and Babaji to the west of the central Helmand town of Lashkar Gah, and then to bring lasting security to the people there. Meaning "together", Moshtarak is the first operation comprehensively planned in partnership with the Afghan national security forces.

The combined Nato and Afghan forces must first clear out the Taliban. That will not be an easy task. Following General McChrystal’s iron policy of prioritising protection of the local population and minimising civilian deaths over and above destroying the enemy, the operation has been signalled for months. This is intended to tell the Taliban that a sledge-hammer is coming their way: "stand aside or you’ll be crushed". The hope: that less committed insurgents will not resist the coalition onslaught.

That will happen, and many will simply continue their normal way of life as farmers and tradespeople, leaving the Kalashnikov under the bed. Others will stand and fight. Or more accurately: plant improvised explosive devices, booby traps and mines, then lay up in ambush positions and snipe and machine-gun our troops before melting away through the well-recced rat-runs and irrigation canals that criss-cross the whole area.

The novel tactic of ensuring the enemy know we are coming has already been heavily criticised by our army of armchair generals, and that will intensify as we take casualties. It goes against the vital military principle of surprise.

But British General Nick Carter, who is commanding the operation, is no fool. He is right to adopt this approach, and he knows also that you cannot disguise the target or time-frame of such a massive operation in the environment of central Helmand. He understands only too well that though most members of the Afghan National Army are loyal and professional soldiers, they have been extensively infiltrated by Taliban sympathisers and the details of any jointly planned large-scale operation will be revealed to the enemy.

Moshtarak will succeed. After the preliminary "shaping" operations in which the operational area is cordoned and vital intelligence gathered about the enemy’s dispositions and intentions, there will be a few days’ hard fighting during the decisive phase of the assault. The advance will be slow as our forces methodically check every inch of the ground they have to cross for mines, booby traps and roadside bombs.

To read the full article click here


  1. Dear Sir,

    Re: the announcement in advance of the Moshtarak operation, were you pressurised by the so-called human rights people to give notice of your actions?


  2. I agree with Juniper.
    I commented yesterday, although for some odd reason you chose not to publish it, that it seemed rather strange to inform the enemy of your intentions.

  3. The release of such information is opsec... and should not be done. It is critical to our mission not to have spill out's as such..