“The population is the prize,” US Brigadier-General Larry Nicholson said today of the invasion of the farming community of Marjah. But if that prize is to be claimed through the oft-spoken of “clear and hold” strategy,
But while officials from the White House on down insist the offensive is “going well,” and the forces on the ground say that all of their primary targets have been seized, it seems premature to declare victory.
“Every market in mined, every shop is mined,” Major General Nick Carter noted, and as snipers and rocket teams continue to emerge to launch attacks, officials emphasize that the town’s Taliban are “far from defeated.”
The clear and hold strategy seems to be the order of the day for NATO, but trying to install a government in a region that hasn’t had one in years, and “primary targets” are of questionable value when the militants have had nearly a decade to integrate themselves into the population. As difficult as “hold” looks to be for Afghanistan’s iffy police force, the ability to clear the area in the first place seems an enormous challenge.
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