NATO’s war in Afghanistan is a war on a number of fronts. The west, the south, the area in and around the capital city of Kabul have all been hotbeds of Taliban activity. The comparatively calm northeast portion of the nation, home to the “Northern Alliance” rebels before the 2001 US invasion, is fast becoming another front.
Taliban strikes are on the rise, and despite much being made of the capture of the province’s “shadow governor” in Pakistan, it seems to be having little effect on the insurgents’ ability to shutter schools, collect taxes from locals, and interrupting NATO’s fuel shipments through neighboring Uzbekistan.
With attacks in the south forever on the rise, shipping through Pakistan has become less reliable and NATO has become increasingly dependent on Uzbekistan as an alternative source of fuel. The 4,000+ German soldiers in the province have struggled to protect the shipments, most notably ordering a September air strike on a village which left over 100 people dead.
NATO is looking to eventually launch an offensive in the region, on a similar scale to the one in Helmand Province earlier this year. But that will likely have to wait until the massive offensive in Kandahar is finished, presumably later this year.
In the interim, US officials are reportedly considering sending some 2,500 additional troops to the north. This will likely only be the tip of the iceberg for the region, as NATO struggles to cope with another front in the ever-growing war.