It’s the worst kept secret of the Afghan war and is expected to be the largest NATO operation since the war began in 2001.
In an interview last December, Brigadier General Larry Nicholson told CNN that the next major battle would be in the city of Marjah in the southern province of Helmand.
And still today, the voices are more abundant and even louder on the impending battle.
“Where else would we go?” Nicholson told reporters recently. “It’s the only place left in the Marine's area of operations that we’re not in.”
"I think there's a certain strength in the Pashtunwali culture just from laying it out there in saying, 'Hey, we are coming. Deal with it,'" said Nicholson.
Marjah is the last major Taliban stronghold in Helmand province. The city encompasses around 100,000 people and holds some of the richest farmlands in Afghanistan.
The offensive has not yet started in full force, but British and Afghan troops have conducted air and ground
operations to prepare for it, the British Ministry of Defence has said.
Coalition military commanders have not said when the offensive will start, other than to say it will be soon.
Capturing Marjah would be an example of the strategy by Gen. Stanley McChrystal (commander of International Security Assistance Force) to focus on population centers and separate the people from the Taliban and then try to gain their trust.
Marjah’s fertile land is ripe for farming poppies and its absence of governance keeps the drug trade alive and strong.
A shadow Taliban government also presides in the city and those who come in and out are forced to pay a tax to the Taliban at various checkpoints surrounding the city.
Operation Moshtarak, or "together" in Dari, is already in its shaping phases. British forces are clearing and paving the way for the U.S. Marines and their Afghan partners to enter the city and claim it for the Afghan government.
This is expected to be the largest show of international and Afghan force working together in order to shape, clear, hold and build.
But the challenges are abundant and the fear is that by announcing the impending battle, the Taliban have had plenty of time to booby trap the area with improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and other deadly surprises.
The number one killer of coalition forces are IEDs. And in Helmand, more than 80 percent of casualties among the troops are because of IED attacks.
The coalition says that they are preparing for a bloody battle and boosting its hospital staff in nearby Camp Bastion.
“The IEDs are getting more powerful, they’re getting harder to detect. And they’re just getting more forceful,” says U.S. Navy doctor, Lt. Commander Gregg Gellman.
Marjah is not expected to be an easy fight.
And the major question that remains is, what if this doesn’t work? Where does that leave the Afghans who have already grown weary of a government they don’t trust and foreigners who some Afghans say haven’t brought them much change in over eight years?