Over eight and a half years after the initial US invasion of Afghanistan the war is arguably the longest in American history. But despite the administration’s vague pretense of an exit strategy, Pentagon officials are emphasizing just how slow things are going.
Gen. Stanley McChrystal today conceded that the occupation of the tiny farming village of Marjah remains “a struggle,” nearly four months after it began. He also openly called for a rethink of President Obama’s July 2011 “handover” timetable, meaningless though that already was, adding that the war would continue “way beyond July 2011.”
Admiral Michael Mullen also stretched the length of the upcoming Kandahar invasion, saying only that it would be “apparent” how well the offensive was going by the end of the year.
But the invasion of Kandahar, a city with nearly a million people, will be a monumentally greater challenge than the invasion of Marjah, a largely fictional town consisting of a few walls and a lot of farms. Since it is still far from apparent how the Marjah offensive has actually gone, it seems unlikely a decisive turn in Kandahar will be readily seen in any short timetable.