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High Noon in Marjah

Posted on March 1 2010 8:00 am
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by Ryan Mauro

The aggressive new strategy in Afghanistan embraced by the Obama Administration, modeled on the successful “surge” in Iraq, is costly, with a third of all American casualties in the conflict occurring since the first reinforcements were sent in May 2009. The latest offensive in Marjah in Helmand Province is going slower than anticipated due to fierce resistance, and it is only a warm-up for a much larger battle in the coming months in Kandahar, the Taliban’s stronghold. And Pakistan remains the key to victory.

As tough as the fighting is in Marjah, the more difficult phase will be capitalizing on the military success by establishing local governance and civil institutions that have credibility with the Afghan people. The national flag now waves above the city and a new governor has taken power, and the fact that for every two foreign soldiers in the offensive there were three Afghan soldiers is very helpful. Roughly a quarter of the city still remains to be taken, but the last bastions of the Taliban forces are said to be running out of ammunition.

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