U.S. Launches Afghan Offensive
July 23, 2009
For three weeks, the U.S. has been carrying out its largest military offensive in Afghanistan ever. The offensive into Helmand province in southern Afghanistan, called "Operation Khanjar (Strike of the Sword)" involves a brigade of 4,000 U.S. marines backed by fighter jets and helicopter gun ships.
A senior U.S. defense official told reporters that, "It's not common for forces to operate at the brigade level." According to Brigadier General Larry Nicholson, "What makes Operation Khanjar different from those that have occurred before is the massive size of the force introduced" and its speed. The first 36-hours were to be "crucial" for the operation.
The U.S. marine offensive into Helmand is accompanied by a parallel offensive involving 3,000 mostly British troops while 6,000 additional U.S. marines are carrying out military operations in southern Afghanistan. The Pentagon is now admitting that the offensives are being confronted with "stronger than expected" resistance and that U.S.-NATO forces are coming under daily attack while significant sections of the region remain out of U.S.-NATO control.
These latest military offensives are part of the Obama administration's escalation of the war that involves increasing the number of American troops in Afghanistan to at least 68,000 by the end of the year. Currently, 90,000 U.S.-NATO troops and 120,000 private military contractors occupy Afghanistan and frequent combat operations are being carried out throughout the country.
U.S. military officials are openly declaring that in order to be able to carry out "elections" on August 20, the U.S. must reoccupy and build new military outposts in the large sections of Afghanistan not currently under its control. The Pentagon is also conceding that occupation forces are coming under frequent attack from Afghan resistance fighters not only in southern Afghanistan but also in the east and around the capital city, Kabul.
The resistance forces are expanding their ranks and include a broad front of Afghan political and religious groups opposed to U.S. occupation.