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The Real Afghan War

By February 13, 2010

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Night Falls on the Taliban: Nine years on, Western forces launch a ground war in Afghanistan. (U.S. Army / Spc. Victor Egorov)

Some 6,000 American, British, Canadian and Afghan forces launched Operation Moshtarak today, attacking the Taliban stronghold of Marja, a town of 80,000 in southern Afghanistan. (Moshtarak is Dari for "together.") The Times calls it "the largest offensive military operation since the American-led coalition invaded the country in 2001."

In fact, it is the largest assault involving American troops on Afghan soil ever.

In 2001, U.S. troops numbering only in the dozens--mostly Special Forces, plus CIA operatives--were used on the ground to assist Northern Alliance Afghan fighters as they overran Taliban positions in October and November. It was overwhelming U.S. air power that demolished the Taliban and sent it literally scurrying for the hills before it regrouped and successfully changed strategy, when the Bush administration was paying attention elsewhere.

Even at Tora Bora in mid-November 2001, when Osama bin Laden was pinned but allowed to slip away, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld refused to send in U.S. troops. "Fewer than 100 American commandos were on the scene with their Afghan allies and calls for reinforcements to launch an assault were rejected," according to a recent report by the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "Requests were also turned down for U.S. troops to block the mountain paths leading to sanctuary a few miles away in Pakistan. The vast array of American military power, from sniper teams to the most mobile divisions of the Marine Corps and the Army, was kept on the sidelines."

The reason? "Rumsfeld said at the time that he was concerned that too many U.S. troops in Afghanistan would create an anti-American backlash and fuel a widespread insurgency. Reversing the recent American military orthodoxy known as the Powell doctrine, the Afghan model emphasized minimizing the U.S. presence by relying on small, highly mobile teams of special operations troops and CIA paramilitary operatives working with the Afghan opposition. Even when his own commanders and senior intelligence officials in Afghanistan and Washington argued for dispatching more U.S. troops, Franks refused to deviate from the plan." Gen. Tommy Franks was the architect of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Today's assault on Marja is a 180-degree shift in strategy. It's not quite back to the Powell Doctrine of overwhelming the opponent with massive force. The United States has around 100,000 troops in all of Afghanistan, a country the size of Texas. But it's getting closer to the Powell Doctrine as possible. U.S. troops are in the thick of battle. They are, to use a phrase George W. Bush loved to use but never enacted in Afghanistan, "taking the fight to the enemy."

It hasn't been a pitched battle. Early reports suggest that the Taliban is up to its old tricks. Just as in 2001 it scurried off positions it had held to regroup elsewhere, it appears to have quit Marja well ahead of time, which may also have been part of the American plan. "Major General Nick Carter, Nato commander of forces in southern Afghanistan, said Afghan and coalition troops, aided by 60 helicopters, made a 'successful insertion' into Marjah without incurring any casualties," Britain's Independent reports.

There was never an element of surprise in the assault. The attack was advertised weeks ahead of time, as much to drown the Taliban in dread as to give them a chance to withdraw--and minimize American casualties. It's one way to fight a war, probably the best way: not to have to fight it. But phase two in the American strategy is holding the towns and terrains cleared of Taliban forces and influence. And doing so with Afghan forces, mostly. That's where the new strategy will be tested. We all know that American power can drop big bombs and take over towns. But can it hold them? Can Afghan forces?

The Taliban knows: every hill and cranny can be a Tora Bora.

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Comments

February 15, 2010 at 4:58 am
(1) Adnan Arshad Mansoori says:

Whatever American, Indian, Jewish or even Brits Participants tried to paint their own or very specific Indian Role at Afghanistan as here-at above as if such Role is very much appreciated at Afghanistan moreover this role is very remarkable over-there.

According to reliable sources Americans & Indians were welcome at Northern Afghanistan tentatively 15 to 17% of Local Population although accepted but with some serious reservations Americans or Indians Presence mostly War Lords or Opium Cultivators or their associates rest of Afghans they deadly hatred with Americans/Indians as a result every 2nd week they are Killed brutally over there. Moreover as we know Obama needs to start earning his keep. He already got overpaid with the Nobel prize for doing nothing so now he has to show before his nation & at other Western Countries that he can lead the world supposed only superpower who is right now on the road namely Af-Pak mind it this Road directly Leads to Zero-Power.

You all Indians must know & realize who spreaded too much unbearable Philosophy Cum Analysis here-at above who have forgotten this fact of the only matter that Obama & his Administration — believe me they all are just declared certified Nut Case as you Indians, Brits, Americans & Jews quiet Underestimated to Pakistan & Afghanistan you all are just Smart, Sensible & Far Sighted only in Indian & Jewish Hollywood Based Movies — But as far as Pakistani ISI or Mullah Omar & Co. are concerned — they are really Extra-Ordinary Smart & Far Sighted they just remain Silent for the last eight years but as & when realized the position of HIGH TIME has come, as right now Americans & Brits have been Trapped into their own Net Pakistani Army Tabled the Pre-Conditions at Brussels – Belgium at Nato HQ i.e. — “To FINISH the ENTIRE INDIAN ROLE at Afghanistan” rather I must declare to the same as Gen. Kiyani put the Prime Condition which was comprised only on One Point — “that Until & Unless Indians are not GET LOST from Afghanistan We Pakistanis are not ready to PLAY our Due Role to Provide Americans for FACE SAVING”— mind you all Indians this is an UTMOST REQUIRED EXIT as their Economy has been touching Bailed Out System in current Financial Year just of this WaT so in constant manner War Action of Americans with Afghanistan & Pakistan — this War against Terror is breaking their back bone anyway in short through out this imposed War Against Terror worked with Americans Pakistani Army Posed as if they were suppose to Duffer & Dumb & only Americans, Brits, Israelis & Indians the combination of Smart & Far Sighted People as they propagandize in their Electronic Media the Jews, Indians & the Westerners are Smart & Far Sighted only & the Pakistani Army is just a follower of these bunch of Stupid in other words Just Smart-alecky people rather Pakistani Army, Military Intelligence/MI or ISI posed Blind as per followed Youtube Link — specially regarding to these Pakistani ISI officials who pretended always with innocence as if they only watch the Horrible Consequences of War Against Terror with the glasses of Made in America only but in actual terms they are Trend Setters as they have been trend setting now-a-days upon the humble request of Red White & Blue Countries to Negotiate even with their own Deadly Hatred persons namely by the way — now who have been turned status wise in-to honorable Mullah Umar & Haqqani Network.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CSG807d3P-U&NR=1

The actual Blind Man who was in Toilet = Taliban — as Taliban have been fighting with Americans & Nato Forces Just Blindly & His Companion another person who posed himself as Blind i.e. Pakistani Intelligence Agencies (ISI & MI) — The thief Girl = America who came here-at South Asia just for plundered the Caspian Oil of Central Asian Countries Oil & Gas Resources worth Amount 49.00 Trillion US$ but caught red handed by Taliban, Pakistani ISI & MI.

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