Obama’s War is started in Afghanistan. The military offensive—Operation Khanjar, the largest since the ouster of Taliban in 2001—with 4000 US Marines and over 600 Afghan troops, was launched in southern province of Helmand—the heartland stronghold of Taliban insurgency where 8000 British soldiers are already deployed.
Unexpectedly, Taliban didn’t resist fiercely. Five districts that they controlled since last three years were regained in the first week of the operation. But, about a dozen British troops have been killed in Helmand during last week only. With the success of the Operation Khanjar, Afghan media is critical of the British role in Helmand questioning what the troops have been doing there while Taliban controlled five districts in the Empire of Poppy Cultivation, as Daily Guardian says.
Its likely Taliban will attempt to make a comeback in Helmand. With guerrilla tactics, they will try suicide attacks and roadside bombings. Polling day will be their easy and broad target.
The Operation Khanjar—Strike of the Sword—is the largest and most important under the new US strategy by Obama Administration, who announced an extra 21000 troops for Afghanistan, changing the focus of the war against terrorism from Iraq to Afghanistan.
What makes this operation different from the ones in past is its long-term objectivity. In the last three years, British forces had been launching small-level military operations in these districts for several times. They would not station there once clearing the districts controlled by Taliban. Thus insurgents would make a comeback later.
The largest military offensive is aimed at clearing the province from insurgents to lay the ground for peaceful and transparent presidential and provincial council elections to take place on August 20. For long-term, the US military say the forces would station in the districts not to give a chance of comeback to insurgents. Seeing the heavy deployment of forces, its likely the troops will stay there longer to maintain the control and improve security in the province. Officials of the Afghan Ministry of Defense have been saying, forces once clearing the area from Taliban, would stay there to maintain good governance and speed up development programs.
Helmand Operation is also very strategic and importance because the province borders Pakistan, where insurgents used to cross easily in the past, whenever any military assault was launched. With a comprehensive operation at the Pakistani side of the border in tribal areas, its now much difficult for Taliban to easily make cross-border penetration. The Operation Khanjar would also decide the effectiveness of the new strategy.