NATO Eyes Massive Offensive in Northern Afghanistan

Attack to Center Around Kunduz, Will Be Similar in Scale to Helmand

by Jason Ditz, March 18, 2010

Yesterday top commander General Stanley McChrystal revealed that the invasion of Kandahar Province, the centerpiece of this year’s offensives in Afghanistan, has already begun. But this year’s offensives will not end there, according to NATO’s ISAF Chief of Staff General Bruno Kasdorf.

Gen. Kasdorf

Gen. Kasdorf says that the alliance is also planning a military offensive against northern Afghanistan, centered around the Kunduz Province. The offensive is scheduled to begin sometime later this year.

The exact timing and scale of the offensive was not disclosed, but the general said it would be of a “similar” scale to the invasion of Helmand earlier this year, which involved some 15,000 troops. Over 4,000 German troops are already deployed in the region.

German operations in Kunduz are something of a sensitive subject after a German-ordered September air-strike by the US killed scores of civilians. The strike has fueled antiwar sentiment in Germany and probes continue into the Defense Ministry’s attempts to cover it up. With German officials already struggling to convince the public of the wisdom of remaining in Afghanistan, a NATO offensive that will turn the northern province into another battleground is likely to add more uncomfortable attention to the reality of the ongoing conflict.

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