In Your Face Taliban, The Coalition Is Coming To Take Marjah And There’s Not A Damn Thing You Can Do About It

U.S. Announces Helmand Offensive

In a rare break from traditional military secrecy, the U.S. and its allies are announcing the precise target of their first big offensive of the Afghanistan surge in an apparent bid to intimidate the Taliban.

Coalition officers have been hinting aloud for months that they plan to send an overwhelming Afghan, British and U.S. force to clear insurgents from the town of Marjah and surrounding areas in Helmand province, and this week the allies took the unusual step of issuing a press release saying the attack was “due to commence.”

Senior Afghan officials went so far as to hold a news conference Tuesday to discuss the offensive, although the allies have been careful not to publicize the specific date or details of the attack.

“If we went in there one night and all the insurgents were gone and we didn’t have to fire a shot, that would be a success,” a coalition spokesman, Col. Wayne Shanks, said before the announcement. “I don’t think there has been a mistake in letting people know we’re planning on coming in.”

The risks could be substantial, however. By surrendering the element of surprise, the coalition has given its enemy time to dig entrenched fighting positions and tunnel networks. Perhaps worse for the attacking infantrymen, the insurgents have had time to booby-trap buildings and bury bombs along paths, roads and irrigated fields. Such hidden devices inflict the majority of U.S. and allied casualties.

Over the past few months, the new allied commander in southern Afghanistan, British Maj. Gen. Nick Carter, has revamped NATO’s coalition strategy in a region that is home to the Pashtun tribes and opium poppy fields that form the ethnic and financial foundations of the Taliban insurgency.

With the first of 30,000 new U.S. troops already on the ground in Afghanistan, Gen. Carter’s plan is to focus on two population centers—Kandahar city, in Kandahar province, and central Helmand province to the west. Combined, they are home to about two million of the estimated three million residents of southern Afghanistan.

Still, the military has taken an unusual step by broadcasting its imminent intention to assault a particular town, Marjah, and its environs. During World War II, civilians and servicemen were frequently reminded that “Loose lips sink ships” and “Enemy ears are listening.” For months leading up to the D-Day landings on June 6, 1944, the Allies went to great lengths to disguise their target.

Similarly, the coalition in Afghanistan normally forbids—at the threat of expulsion—embedded reporters from writing about events before they take place. In this case, though, officials even released the name of the offensive, Operation Moshtarak, and said it would be a joint Afghan-coalition attack. Moshtarak means “together” in Dari, although the bulk of the population in southern Afghanistan speaks Pashto.

See also:
Allies publicly target Taliban
Coalition troops brace for biggest offensive since start of Afghan war
Marines gear up for push into Afghan Taliban enclave
Marines prepare to storm Taliban stronghold
US Marines, Afghan and NATO forces brace for battle in Afghan Taliban stronghold
US marines plan attack on Taleban stronghold
US, NATO, Afghan Troops Planning Major Southern Offensive
Troops Prepare and Publicize Offensive Against Taliban
Afghanistan: US and British to launch biggest offensive since 2001
U.S. Plans Defense of Kandahar

An interesting Coalition strategy indeed, will the Taliban flee in humiliation or flock to Marjah and die en masse? The overhead drones will surely be watching.

/either way, we’re taking the town

Classic Hammer And Anvil With Taliban In Between


‘Cobra’s Anger’ strikes Taliban

More than 1,000 U.S., British, and Afghan troops launched a major offensive in a key battleground of southern Afghanistan yesterday, only days after President Barack Obama unveiled a new strategy to end the war.

NATO said the offensive was designed to crush terrorists around a major town in Helmand in order to allow development to begin and civilians to return, key elements of Mr. Obama’s decision to deploy 30,000 new U.S. troops to Afghanistan.

About 900 U.S. Marines and sailors, British troops and more than 150 Afghan soldiers and police were taking part in Operation Khareh Cobra, or “Cobra’s Anger” in the valley of Now Zad.

Hundreds of Marines were dropped by aircraft into the north of the valley, while a large force of soldiers pushed northward from the town of Now Zad to sandwich the Taliban between the two forces.

“More than 1,000 ISAF personnel partnered with Afghan national security forces began a long-planned operation in northern Helmand province to clear insurgent forces from a key area,” the military said.

For the first time in Afghanistan, U.S. troops used Osprey aircraft — which have features of both a helicopter and a fixed-wing plane– to fly waves of Marines into the valley.

Also for the first time, combat engineers deployed the “Assault Breacher,” a tracked armoured vehicle built on a tank chassis. It was being used to clear a path through improvised minefields.

Major William Pelletier, from Camp Leatherneck in Helmand, told CNN the valley is “a major through-route” for transporting fighters and munitions from east to west and north to south. Terrorists have mined the region, and troops intend to provide enough security for the Afghan government and nongovernmental organizations to begin clearing the mines and roadside bombs so they can repopulate the town.

“So far, four Taliban dead bodies were left behind on the battlefield. But enemy casualties could be higher,” said Daud Ahmadi, a spokesman for the Helmand governor, adding scores of mines and a cache of explosives were seized.

See also:
U.S. Marines advance in southern Afghanistan
US, British, Afghan Troops Push into Taliban Area
Marines Start Operation in Helmand Province
Marines, Afghans Launch Major Offensive
‘Cobra’s Anger’ unleashed in Taliban heartland
New Afghan push takes aim at militants
U.S., Afghan troops launch first major offensive after Obama’s announcement of troop surge
Militants killed, detained in new Afghan-US military operation
‘Cobra’s Anger’ making progress, say US Marines
‘Cobra’s Anger’ Offensive Sends Thousand U.S., NATO Troops To Afghan Valley
NATO takes on Taliban in south of Afghanistan
Marines Start Operation in Helmand Province
Monster mine-clearing tank goes to work in Afghanistan
ABV to protect combat engineers
Grizzly [Breacher]
Controversial ‘Osprey’ chopper makes debut in Afghanistan
V-22 Osprey
V-22 Osprey

/dusting off the old playbook, shades of Junction City

Fourth Time’s A Charm?

Pakistan Launches Waziristan Offensive

The Pakistani military launched a major ground offensive Saturday in the insurgent haven of South Waziristan, starting a much-awaited fight that could define the nation’s increasingly bloody domestic struggle against Islamist extremism.

Pakistani officials said nearly 30,000 troops were deployed in the Taliban and al-Qaeda stronghold, from which militants have planned a two-week-long string of attacks against the nation’s formidable security forces.

The assaults have killed nearly 200 people and further destabilized a weak government that the United States has pressed to take a tougher stand against militancy. Now, with public alarm rising and winter snowfall approaching, Pakistani officials indicated they could wait no longer.

“There has to be consensus in the face of what is clearly now a war,” said Sherry Rehman, a ruling party lawmaker. “We have to treat this as a battle for Pakistan’s survival.”

The offensive is a gamble. Pakistani forces retreated after three previous, but far smaller, incursions into South Waziristan, an essentially ungoverned terrain of ridges and peaks that is unfamiliar to most except the tribes that live there. It is a potential vortex for the Pakistani army, which has been trained to battle archenemy India on the plains of the Punjab province, not conduct alpine counterinsurgency operations.

To succeed, experts on the insurgency said, the military will need to stunt the leadership of the feared Mehsud network of the Pakistani Taliban, which has regrouped since its chief was killed by a U.S. missile strike in August. The military will have to do that without alienating civilians in the area, they said, and before winter sets in. The operation is expected to last six to eight weeks, said Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, a military spokesman.

“The stakes for both sides are enormous,” said Bruce Hoffman, a counterinsurgency expert at Georgetown University. “The attacks of the past couple weeks demonstrate that the militants are really concerned . . . and that will have increased the ardor of the Pakistani forces to succeed. But it’s also an indication of why they can’t fail — the threat is already manifest.”

See also:
Pakistani Troops Attack Taliban in South Waziristan Stronghold
Pakistani Army begins Waziristan offensive
11 militants die in ground offensive against militants in S. Waziristan
The ground offensive
FACTBOX-The battle in Pakistan’s South Waziristan
Pakistan Troops Launch Offensive Against Taliban In Stronghold Of South Waziristan
Pakistani Military Launches Ground Offensive into South Waziristan
Pakistan sends 30,000 troops for all-out assault on Taliban
Pakistan Opens Offensive in a Militant Stronghold
Pakistan launches risky offensive into Taliban-Al Qaeda stronghold
Pakistan imposes curfew in South Waziristan
Eyewitness: At the edge of war
Thousands Flee Pakistan’s S. Waziristan Region
Pakistan Government Must Prepare for S. Waziristan Displacement Crisis, Says Amnesty International
Baitullah Mehsud Network, mother of all evils: ISPR spokesman

Three times previously the Pakistani Army has ventured forth into South Waziristan and three times previously they have settled for “making peace” with the Taliban. The Pakistan government and people have been burned by these “truces” all three times. There is no making peace with the Talkiban, the only solution is their utter destruction.

Until the Pakistan government physically cleans out and gains sovereign control over Waziristan and the northern tribal areas, the Taliban will be free to continue to plan and carry out attacks and al Qaeda will continue to have a safe haven. For the sake of some modicum of stability in the region, let’s all hope that this fourth time’s a charm and that the Pakistani Army is finally serious about crushing the Taliban threat once and for all.

/no hudna this time, all the marbles, total war, in it to win it, it’s not over until the entire Taliban senior leadership is captured or killed, their heads displayed on pikes would be an appropriate, well deserved fate for these pirates of civilization

The Taliban Is Serious About Winning In Afghanistan, Are We?

It’s bad enough that the Taliban is killing more U.S. and NATO soldiers than ever, using ever more sophisticated tactics, destroying NATO supply convoys at the vulnerable border choke points between Pakistan and Afghanistan, and generally intimidating and terrorizing the civilian population with suicide bombers and mutilations. Now there’s a new twist, the Taliban is using targeted suicide bombings to assasinate high ranking members of the Afghan military chain of command and civilian leadership.

Taliban Kill Spy Official, 22 Others

A Taliban suicide bomber killed at least 23 people including Afghanistan’s deputy intelligence chief Wednesday, demonstrating the insurgency’s reach and its ability to hit a vulnerable Afghan government.

. . .

The slain official, Abdullah Laghmani, helped head the National Directorate of Security, which has been at the forefront of the anti-Taliban fight. Insurgent groups have long targeted Mr. Laghmani, according to Afghan intelligence agents.

Early Wednesday, Mr. Laghmani was emerging from a mosque in Mehterlam, the capital of Laghman province, about 60 miles east of Kabul, when a man approached and detonated explosives. The blast killed Mr. Laghmani and a number of senior provincial officials, according to Sayed Ahmad Safi, a spokesman for the provincial governor.

How the bomber slipped past Mr. Laghmani’s security detail wasn’t clear, Mr. Safi said. Mr. Laghmani, who comes from Laghman, had been at the mosque to discuss security in the province with tribal elders, according to Mr. Safi. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said his group was responsible for the attack, the Associated Press reported.

The insurgents have repeatedly warned Afghans not to work with the government, and they’ve killed high- and low-ranking officials. In recent weeks, they’ve ambushed and wounded lawmakers traveling along a main road south of Kabul; killed a district governor in southern Afghanistan; and slain a number of election workers in the North.

President Karzai called Wednesday’s attack an attempt by the “enemy” to undermine the government. But other “brave and hardworking” Afghans would take the places of those slain, he said in a statement.

The attacks point to an insurgency that is packing a powerful punch as it expands beyond the Taliban stronghold in the south to the eastern border with Pakistan as well as other areas of Afghanistan. Once-peaceful provinces in Afghanistan now see regular insurgent attacks. In July and August, 153 foreign troops were killed, the deadliest two-month period since the war began in 2001.

See also:
Afghan intelligence chief Abdullah Laghmani killed in suicide attack
Afghan spy boss killed in Taliban suicide attack
Blast kills senior Afghan intelligence official
In Afghanistan, suicide bomber kills intelligence official at mosque
Suicide bomber kills 23 in Afghanistan
At least 23 die in Afghanistan blast -spokesman

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, is calling for a change in strategy to counter the increasing Taliban threat.

Danger growing in Afghanistan

Nearly eight years on, the multinational endeavor to stabilize and rebuild Afghanistan is in serious trouble. A recent security review conducted by the Afghan government and United Nations agencies indicated the Taliban either control or pose a high risk of attack in 40 percent of the country.

Casualties among Afghan civilians and the International Security Assistance Force — about half of which is American — are rising. August was the deadliest month yet for U.S. forces, as insurgent attacks and roadside bombs claimed 49 American lives.

President Obama has responded to the calls of military leaders to increase troop strength in Afghanistan, deploying an additional 21,000 troops in recent months. Another 4,000 are due before the end of the year.

But as with the surge in Iraq, success in Afghanistan isn’t merely a question of more boots on the ground. It’s also dependent on giving them the right leaders with the right strategy. And it’s dependent on our Afghan partners.

A new strategic assessment from Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, calls for a revision of current strategy. The primary objective, he says, should be to earn the trust of the Afghan people and prepare them to take the lead in securing their country.

Temporarily taking towns and villages out from under control of the shadow government of the Taliban isn’t enough to earn the trust of the local population, McChrystal writes in a counterinsurgency document. Areas must be held and the local context changed “so people are more attracted to building and protecting their communities than destroying them.”

The biggest problem, however, may not be the size or strategy of the ISAF force. It may be the Afghan government.

McChrystal’s assessment assumes a timeline of several years before Afghan security forces and government institutions build up operational effectiveness. But mounting allegations of fraud and unexpectedly low voter turnout in last month’s presidential election along with continuing concerns about corruption and drug trafficking raise serious questions about the legitimacy of the government of President Hamid Karzai.

See also:
Afghanistan strategy must change, US commander McChrystal says
Gen. McChrystal calls for overhaul of Afghanistan war strategy
Report: McChrystal says US needs new Afghanistan strategy
Obama to Receive McChrystal Report Wednesday
Obama to get Afghan report on vacation
Obama using 5 measures to assess Afghan report
Top General in Afghanistan Looks to Replace Support Force With Combat Troops
EXCLUSIVE: General mulls more fighters in Afghanistan
Gates hints at US buildup in Afghanistan
Why McChrystal may not get more troops for Afghanistan
How long before Americans demand change in Afghanistan?

All I can say is that Obama had better be prepared to follow his military commander’s advice and do whatever is necessary to defeat the Taliban and al Qaeda, and he had better not be looking for the nearest exit door to cut and run through.

/giving Afghanistan back to the Taliban and al Qaeda on his Presidential watch, after eight years of sacrificing American blood and treasure to the conflict, will not look good on Obama’s historical resume