Third Battalion, 6th Marines leapt into combat, hopping over the maze of canals and minefields in 60 helicopters of Marine Air Group 40 and Task Force Pegasus, the Combat Aviation Brigade of the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division. The Marines were on the outskirts of Marjah’s bazaar before enemy fighters could get their pants on.
Major General Nick Carter, NATO commander for Southern Afghanistan said this about the initial assault in an interview early on Saturday: “The amount of aviation that was used and the way it was used, the number of objectives, and the extent to which the enemy was dislocated in terms of that overwhelming arrival between 2AM and dawn this morning was impressive, to say the least.”
More Marines and soldiers advanced on the ground closing the vice on the enemy. The advance on the ground was slow through heavily mined poppy fields. The danger to our men will not be from enemy counterattacks. The danger in this operation will come from hidden IEDs and home-made bombs.
On the eve of the attack, Taliban leaders, knowing that their options were slowly being eliminated, issued orders for civilians to remain in Marjah. Many families defied these orders, hopped in cars and trucks when the Taliban commanders were not watching and fled.
“We were not allowed to come here. We haven’t brought any of our belongings; we just tried to get ourselves out,” said Bibi Gul, an elderly woman who arrived in nearby Lashkar Gah with three of her sons along with hundreds of other fleeing civilians. The Afghan government is prepared to shelter 7,000 families in nearby towns.
With their hostages gone and Marines on the horizon, most of the Taliban will attempt to slip away to fight another day. They will scatter to the winds and hope that their hidden explosives will inflict many allied casualties. These cowards will run.
And, with every Taliban coward that flees the fight, the level of violence will be decreased; thus reducing the chance of civilian casualties. General McChrystal is brilliant. If the enemy stands and fights – he will surely die. If he runs, he will lose his source of income and control over the people of Helmand.
The kinetic portion of Operation Moshtarak will be violent and fast. The Taliban will be quickly ejected from Central Helmand. But, Operation Moshtarak will last quite some time. Provisional Reconstruction teams, the Afghan National Army and Afghan Police will saturate the area with the sole intent of improving the lives of the people of Helmand. And, they will stay. The Taliban will not be allowed to return.
Much like a cancer patient, surgery is often traumatic and dangerous, but months of chemo-therapy are necessary to completely remove the malignancy. In the coming months, the Afghan government, NATO and the United States will work tirelessly to improve the lives of the people of this agricultural area. If they are successful, the Taliban will become irrelevant.
Without a population to support their cause, they will be defeated.Read the full post and comments »