On Day 5 of Operation Moshtarak, coalition forces say they're gaining ground in more parts of Marjah using slow and methodical tactics. In a show of confidence, the provincial governor and officials visited the town, raising the Afghan flag in one of Marjah's main markets in a ceremony. While government officials in Kabul point to successes, commanders on the ground remain cautious.
"I think the Afghan government is getting a little ahead of themselves, frankly," says Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade-Afghanistan commanding general. "We have 5,000 Marines and Afghan soldiers in Marjah continuing to work everyday. Do we control all of Marjah? No." But they hope that will soon change now that they're getting extra help and support in the form of more Afghan national security forces.
KABUL, Afghanistan - Two service members have been killed in the last 24 hours in incidents related to Operation Moshtarak - the major NATO offensive against the Taliban in southern Afghanistan - the NATO-led military force said Wednesday.
The two were killed by small arms fire, the International Security Assistance Force said. One died Tuesday and the other on Wednesday, ISAF said.
The next target for coalition forces in Afghanistan could be Kandahar, report two Canadian publications.
“If everything runs true to current form, Canadian Brig.-Gen. Daniel Menard will soon loudly announce a major combat operation in Kandahar that will look a lot like the one launched by NATO on Saturday in neighboring Helmand — which came after weeks of very public propaganda about when and where it was going to take place,” writes Matthew Fisher in a report published by the Vancouver Sun.
“As the operation in central Helmand winds down, all eyes will inevitably turn to Kandahar, which is now the last major Taliban stronghold in the south.”
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The dramatic arrest of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar - the military leader of the Afghan Taliban - represents a setback for the Taliban, but for now it won't directly affect the fighting in Afghanistan, a senior U.S. military official tells CNN. Baradar and Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar are said to have orchestrated the Taliban's military activities from Quetta, Pakistan.
The official said Tuesday that Baradar and the rest of the Afghan Taliban leadership in Quetta have provided "overall strategic direction" to their fighters, but not "tactical control" over their actions, so there will be little effect on Operation Moshtarak, the major offensive U.S. Marines are waging against the Taliban in the Marjah area of Helmand province. FULL POST
Now that Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar (considered the Taliban's No. 2 man and military leader) has been captured, what does it mean for the Taliban? CNN's Ali Velshi spoke with Ken Robinson, a terrorism and national security analyst and former military intelligence officer, about how the Taliban operates as a group, what the replacement process will be and the likelihood of negotiating with the Taliban.
VELSHI: Baradar's arrest: is it a game-changer?
ROBINSON: It is because [the Taliban] doesn't have a lot of people who are in the command and control being able to plan to conduct future operations.
VELSHI: They've got lots of people who are prepared to go out there, fight and get killed.
ROBINSON: But not a lot of people who have the influence to be able to lead these large organizations. The Taliban is divided into three organizations, none of which, if we were there, would be cooperating. They would be fighting each other. FULL POST