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Archive for Saturday, February 13, 2010

U.S. launches attack on Taliban-held Afghan town

February 13, 2010

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U.S. Marines wake up Friday morning in their firing positions at a forward camp outside Marjah in Afghanistan’s Helmand province. Marines and Afghan troops reached the outer rim of the Taliban-held town today, opening a major offensive to re-establish government control and break the extremists’ grip over their southern heartland.

U.S. Marines wake up Friday morning in their firing positions at a forward camp outside Marjah in Afghanistan’s Helmand province. Marines and Afghan troops reached the outer rim of the Taliban-held town today, opening a major offensive to re-establish government control and break the extremists’ grip over their southern heartland.

— U.S. Marines and Afghan troops faced rocket and heavy machine-gun fire from insurgents entrenched inside a Taliban-held town today, as a long-expected offensive began to re-establish government control.

The assault on Marjah is the biggest offensive since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan and will serve as a major test of a new NATO strategy focused on protecting civilians. The attack is also the first major combat operation since President Barack Obama ordered 30,000 U.S. reinforcements here in December to try to turn the tide of the war.

Detecting multiple layers of insurgent defenses encircling the city, Cobra helicopters fired Hellfire missiles at tunnels, bunkers and other defensive positions. Militants also flooded the main canal at the town’s entrance, making it more difficult for U.S.-led forces to enter on foot.

Marine commanders had said they expected between 400 to 1,000 insurgents — including more than 100 foreign fighters — to be holed up in Marjah, a town of 80,000 people in Helmand province. Marjah, 360 miles southwest of Kabul, is the biggest southern town under Taliban control and the linchpin of the militants’ logistical and opium-smuggling network.

Sporadic rocket fire from insurgents and the rattle of gunfire echoed in the air. A U.S. missile detonated a massive 55-gallon fuel-drum bomb that sent a mushroom of black smoke dozens of yards into the sky.

Helicopters carrying hundreds of U.S. Marines and Afghan troops swooped into town under the cover of darkness early today with a ground assault of thousands of additional forces expected to follow.

“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.

The operation, code-named “Moshtarak,” or Together, was described as the biggest joint operation of the Afghan war. Maj. Gen. Nick Carter, commander of NATO forces in southern Afghanistan, said 15,000 troops were involved, including some 7,500 troops fighting in Marjah.

To the north, British, American and Canadian forces struck in the Nad Ali district in a push to break Taliban power in Helmand, one of the major battlefields of the war.

In a village north of Marjah, residents said they heard gunfire before dawn but then it went quiet. Abdul Manan, a farmer in the village of Saipo, said he finally decided to risk going out of his house and saw American troops walking by. They told him to go back inside.

Taliban militants who had been in his village two days ago disappeared. “I don’t see any Taliban now. I see Americans,” he said by phone.

Once the town is secured, NATO hopes to rush in aid and restore public services in a bid to win support among the estimated 125,000 people who live in Marjah and surrounding villages.

The Afghans’ ability to restore those services is crucial to the success of the operation and to prevent the Taliban from returning.

Tribal elders have pleaded for NATO to finish the operation quickly and spare civilians — an appeal that offers some hope the townspeople will cooperate with Afghan and international forces once the Taliban are gone.

Comments

Richard Heckler 4 years, 10 months ago

When the Taliban was doing battle with Russia the USA government provided back up intelligence and weapons. What are we doing here?

This country needs presidents who do not feel they need to prove themselves tough and war mongering. We need presidents with backbone who set peace as the objective by way of diplomacy not not killing thousands upon thousands of people annually.

And we wonder why other countries dislike the USA government.

The marines were forced to launch an attack in Afghanistan = more innocent marines and Afghani people dead.

USA military is in Yemen,Pakistan,Iraq,Iran and of course the USA military strong arm of Israel. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2003/apr/20/israelandthepalestinians.oil

This is the policy of USA total global military domination: http://www.oldamericancentury.org/pnac.htm

Richard Heckler 4 years, 10 months ago

Strategic Errors of Monumental Proportions

by Lt. Gen. William E. Odom (Ret.)

Text of testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 18 January 2007

Good afternoon, Senator Biden, and members of the committee. It is a grave responsibility to testify before you today because the issue, the war in Iraq, is of such monumental importance.

You have asked me to address primarily the military aspects of the war. Although I shall comply, I must emphasize that it makes no sense to separate them from the political aspects. Military actions are merely the most extreme form of politics. If politics is the business of deciding "who gets what, when, how," as Boss Tweed of Tammany Hall in New York City once said, then the military aspects of war are the most extreme form of politics. The war in Iraq will answer that question there.

Strategic Overview

The role that US military forces can play in that conflict is seriously limited by all the political decisions the US government has already taken. The most fundamental decision was setting as its larger strategic purpose the stabilization of the region by building a democracy in Iraq and encouraging its spread. This, of course, was to risk destabilizing the region by starting a war.

Military operations must be judged by whether and how they contribute to accomplishing war aims. No clear view is possible of where we are today and where we are headed without constant focus on war aims and how they affect US interests. The interaction of interests, war aims, and military operations defines the strategic context in which we find ourselves. We cannot have the slightest understanding of the likely consequences of proposed changes in our war policy without relating them to the strategic context. Here are the four major realities that define that context:

  1. Confusion about war aims and US interests. The president stated three war aims clearly and repeatedly:

  2. the destruction of Iraqi WMD;

  3. the overthrow of Saddam Hussein; and
  4. the creation of a liberal democratic Iraq.

The first war aim is moot because Iraq had no WMD. The second was achieved by late Spring 2003. Today, people are waking up to what was obvious before the war -- the third aim has no real prospects of being achieved even in ten or twenty years, much less in the short time anticipated by the war planners. Implicit in that aim was the belief that a pro-American, post-Saddam regime could be established. This too, it should now be clear, is most unlikely. Finally, is it in the US interest to have launched a war in pursuit of any of these aims? And is it in the US interest to continue pursuing the third? Or is it time to redefine our aims? And, concomitantly, to redefine what constitutes victory?

  1. The war has served primarily the interests of Iran and al-Qaeda, not American interests...

http://www.antiwar.com/orig/odom.php?articleid=10396

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