The Wall Street Journal reports:
U.S. and Afghan troops invaded this Taliban-held town early Saturday, launching the main thrust of the largest coalition offensive since 2001, a test of whether America’s surge strategy can rescue the faltering war effort.
British, Afghan and U.S. troops were poised to begin an even larger thrust to take over one of the last Taliban-controlled bastions in the volatile Helmand River Valley. The offensive in Marjah began with small teams dropping into the town around midnight to kill or capture insurgent leaders.
The invasion has been planned and announced fairly publicly for over a month, according to antiwar.com. Both US and Taliban forces asked civilians to stay put. However, this was certainly not the case. The Associated Press reports:
Residents told The Associated Press by telephone this week that Taliban fighters were preventing them from leaving, warning the roads were planted with land mines to slow the NATO advance.
Nevertheless, the road between Marjah and the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah, 20 miles (30 kilometers) to the northeast, was jammed Friday with hundreds of cars and trucks filled with people fleeing ahead of the assault. Many said they had to leave quickly and secretly to avoid recrimination from Taliban commanders.
The Taliban does not plan to even attempt to combat the invasion, but simply to lay low until US forces leave, and then resurface. Anybody notice a pattern here dating back to, say, the Vietnam War? From PBS:
…the Vietcong would avoid pitched battles with the Americans unless the odds were clearly in their favor. There would be more hit and run attacks and ambushes. To counter the American build-up, Vietcong recruitment would be stepped up…
Just a thought. Keep an eye out for updates on the situation in Afghanistan. And keep the people fleeing these towns in your thoughts/prayers/meditations/etc.Published in