The Military's Latest Afghan Offensive - Operation Enduring Conflict
Posted by Michael Cohen
So it seems the latest US military offensive has begun both in Afghanistan and here in the United States - Operation Enduring Conflict. And like so many other military offensives it promises to be a smashing success - in continuing US military involvement in Afghanistan.
It began over the weekend, with a shock and war-style attack that left critics of the conflict dazed and bloodied. In the Washington Post:
"Top U.S. military and civilian officials in Afghanistan have begun to assert that they see concrete progress in the war against the Taliban, a sharp departure from earlier assessments that the insurgency had the momentum. Despite growing numbers of Taliban attacks and American casualties, U.S. officials are building their case for why they are on the right track, ahead of the December war review ordered by President Obama."
This massive public relations bombardment was bolstered with a series of behind the lines operations that sought to strike at NATO's soft underbelly.
From the Times of London:
"The Taliban are getting an absolute arse-kicking," said one top-level Westerner deeply involved with Operation Ham Kari, the latest big push by US and British forces in Kandahar. "It's been their worst year since 2001-02. We're taking them off the battlefield in industrial numbers. We're convinced that the initiative has really shifted."
The Montreal Gazette:
The feeling among Canadians and American soldiers fighting in this corner of the country is that the principal reason some Taliban are keen to talk is that the enemy has been getting crushed on the battlefield since a huge surge in U.S. forces finally kicked in this summer. Even a few members of the Western media who have been notoriously dubious about the war may slowly be changing their minds.
The enemy was pushed back on its heels. "Wait a minute," they cried. Civilian casualties are way up . . . the North is getting worse . . . the ANSF can't fight its way out of a paper bag . . . the insurgency is maturing and getting more effective . . . even the White House thinks things are going badly . . . your one "success" Marjah is anything but.
But military officials brushed aside these dead-enders, showing no mercy. Army Group Ignatius took the right flank:
With Petraeus in the political-military driver's seat, he can steer a process to push the disparate Taliban groups toward a political settlement.
Marine division Broadwell took the left flank:
For the other realists who are watching Afghanistan, there has not been a shift in the war strategy. The strategy that President Obama sent Petraeus there to execute hasn't changed, and neither has Petraeus's momentum: this is a multi-pronged comprehensive COIN strategy, intensified across all lines of effort -- and Petraeus is "all in."
Headquarters dropped piercing artillery and rocket attacks against the enemy:
"Petraeus recently told David Frost on Al Jazeera English. “So I think, in that sense, I think it is arguable, at least, that we are winning.”
And then with their opponents on their heels, barely holding their analytical positions the army sent in the really big guns; the latest weapon in the arsenal - Carlotta:
American and Afghan forces have been routing the Taliban in much of Kandahar Province in recent weeks, forcing many hardened fighters, faced with the buildup of American forces, to flee strongholds they have held for years, NATO commanders, local Afghan officials and residents of the region said.
“We now have the initiative. We have created momentum,” said Maj. Gen. Nick Carter, the British commander of the NATO coalition forces in southern Afghanistan, who has overseen the Kandahar operation for the last year. “It is everything put together in terms of the effort that has gone in over the last 18 months and it is undoubtedly having an impact.”
No mercy has been shown.
The cynics who argue that the war is lost; that by the military's own COIN metrics the mission has been a failure; that tactical success in killing Taliban commanders does not equal strategic progress . . . they are being silenced. And our military is proving once again then when it comes to waging successful, multi-pronged offensives it has no equal in the world.
Of course the ultimate prize is six weeks away when the military seeks a renewed White House commitment to the war, but there is no question its opponents have been softened up and momentum truly has shifted. The initiative has been regained - the war will continue!
Go forward our bravely spinning men and women of the US military!