With more than a month of lead time, the NATO invasion of the Marjah region was supposed to be a “test” operation for a new strategy of overwhelming force. The alliance was brimming with confidence that its 15,000-strong invasion force would make short work of a relatively small Taliban presence in a matter of days if not hours. When the overnight invasion began, commanders promised the residents would “wake up to a new tomorrow.”
But that quick and decisive victory has been anything but. Numerous civilians have been killed in the invasion, the Taliban is still there, and officials are now talking about a “long-term” operation in the area, as Marjah’s civilian populace faces ruin.
Yet NATO sees no reason to abandon a strategy simply because it isn’t working, and officials say that they will use virtually the exact same strategy in the neighboring Kandahar Province, a much more populous region likely to be much more contentious than rural Marjah.
Canadian Commander Brigadier-General Daniel Ménard insisted that they will even use the same tactics to minimize the number of civilians killed in Kandahar, insisting that the number of Marjah residents killed was “not bad.” The Kandahar operation will begin this spring.