Western officials and Afghan military leaders are loudly hyping their “first solo offensive” against the Taliban, in the Helmand Province, saying it will prove the Afghan military can function without NATO aid.
If Afghan forces engaged in their “first solo” anything sounds familiar, it’s because those same officials were loudly trumpeting their operations against the Taliban in Helmand last year.
At the time, it was a defensive operation, trying to hold territory that had been left by US and British forces in the province. It also went very poorly, hence the new “first offensive” operation to try to take it back.
Exactly how “out of it” NATO is remains to be seen, particularly after the defense of Helmand went so poorly. Trying to demonstrate Afghan military competence is something NATO likely has far too much interest in to leave to Afghan military leaders, and they will doubtless be providing as much behind-the-scenes aid as they can muster, trying to sell the scheme as a success.