February 10th, 2010
07:24 AM ET

Afghan forces, citizens key to Marjah victory after battle ends

Coalition forces in Afghanistan will face two enemies when they invade the Taliban stronghold of Marjah: the enemy and the clock, military experts say.

The U.S.-led offensive Operation Moshtarak, which is expected is start any day, is being described as the largest military operation in Afghanistan since the war began in 2001.

But the most important battle will take place after the shooting stops, several military experts say. The Marjah offensive will feature the largest presence of Afghan national army troops in any battle to date, yet what these troops do afterward will be critical, they say.

“This is a great opportunity for Afghan security forces to establish their bona fides,” says Lt. Col. Michael E. Silverman, an Iraq war veteran and a counterinsurgency training consultant for the U.S. Army.

 “We’ll never have enough U.S. forces to hold a place in the middle of Afghanistan,” Silverman says. “It’s going to have to be the Afghan forces that are going to take the lead in holding places.”

 The Marjah battle is expected to be vicious: house-to-house fighting in a major city littered with bobby-traps. Marjah is located in central Helmand where opium, which is used to fund the Taliban, is grown.

The battle for the loyalty of Marjah’s citizens is even more important, Silverman says.  The Taliban has installed a shadow government in Marjah. Coalition forces must convince Afghans to look to their own national government for security and economic opportunities, Silverman says.

 “The real work is getting the people of Helmand to connect with the government of Afghanistan,” Silverman says. “Without that, it doesn’t mater if the Taliban is there or not, there’s still going to be sympathy for the Taliban.”

All that work, though, requires time. Polls show that the American public’s support for the war has been declining. President Obama also said that he will start withdrawing U.S. troops in Afghanistan beginning in 2011.

True victory in Marjah, though, may not come quickly, says Brian Katulis a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress in Washington.

“The biggest sign of success won’t come in a matter of weeks,” Katulis says. “It will be months, if not a year, to see if these sorts of operations have a long-term effect.”

 The success of the battle also requires political legitimacy for Afghanistan’s national government, Katulis says. Many Afghans see their national government, led by President Hamid Karzai, as corrupt and illegitimate after last year’s disputed presidential elections, Katulis says.

That distrust of the Afghan national government places a burden on Afghan army forces, Katulis says. Will Afghans in cities like Marjah welcome them as liberators - or dismiss them as defenders of a corrupt regime?

“I don’t know,” Katulis says. “That’s an open question at this point.”

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Filed under: Marjah • Operation Moshtarak • Troops
soundoff (100 Responses)
  1. Egina

    Good luck son and be safe! God bless you and your fellow Marines always! Semper fi I love you!

    February 12, 2010 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |

    UH RAH!!
    Well spoken Sgt E / Gunny Bo. Semper Fi

    February 12, 2010 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Broadway Blues

    Ruslan Putin didn't kill 3000 people on Sept.11,2001. Islamic extremist did. This is our battle. You and your Chechen terrorist buddies can fend for yourselves! Do what you and your kind do best...strap a bomb and go down to the marketplace and blow up innocent women and children. Coward! Talk about unintelligent propaganda!!

    February 12, 2010 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  4. 3 decade vet

    to that marine vet,
    like most marines you are brainwashed,if you are soo bad maybe you guys can invade china,n korea,or even iran,the truth is usa is a big bully who invades small countries from grenada,panama,iraq,ect
    america wake up,you have a defense budget that,s going to make us all poor,when the say support the military,they mean it,military getting RICH,while the rest suffer,military,homeland security,ect
    the government uses fear,and terrorist as a weopon to control us,sane people wake up before it,s too late.to that jarhead maybe blackwater,xe can hire,you meet that sicko profile,DAMN THE TROOPS,AND OUR STUPID POLITICIANS!!

    February 12, 2010 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Karen

    No matter what our views are, what or how we feel...we have men and women over there fighting in these wars. I pray for all of them and for all the innocent lives that are taken.
    From Someone who cares about a soldier over there.

    February 12, 2010 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Peter

    good luck troops...... i thank all of you for laying youre lifes on the line

    may god bless all of you and youre families

    February 12, 2010 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Eddie

    It is difficult to win a war when the enemy knows your plan. CNN should stop commemting the plans of the coalition forces. The war is difficult because the enemy knows their plans. If the enemy is taken by surprise he will not have any way to defend it self then the coalition forces will now succeed and take control over them.

    February 12, 2010 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  8. Daniel Boone

    Poppys and Opium rule in Afghanistan! The drug loards are dancing all over NATOS and the US stupid little noses. The Marines and Soldiers are living in fantasy land, there is no way to sort out the Taliban from normal civilians. The only way is to carpet bomb the dam place and then start out fresh.

    February 12, 2010 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
  9. VET27511

    Love the Warrior – Hate the War

    Bring them all home now !!

    February 12, 2010 at 8:47 am | Report abuse |
  10. GunnyBo

    WOW, reading all these entries is tiresome. The city of Marjah is the key factor in controlling the helmand province which the Marines were tasked with. Marines are happy to be out of Iraq because we were bored there. Ocupying is not one of the Marine missions We take control and then move on. We should be out of Afghanistan by the end of 2011 as long as our hands aren't tied like they were in Iraq. As far as the money is concerned, You have volunteers why is the government paying private contracters? Instead of complaining, Which is what most of these entries are, do something about it. Join the State Department or Military and go to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Haiti or some other country that is in turmoil. another subbestion is to move back to your mother land of the country that you claim, Today before its too late.

    February 12, 2010 at 7:48 am | Report abuse |
  11. SgtE USMC

    12 FEB 2010

    US Troops: Thanks for defending our country!

    "Why this war?" some ask. Our brave men and women of the US Armed Forces are putting their butts on the line to take the fight to the enemy's doorstep- all so that you can complain about the war, eat Mcdonald's, go out to the bar with your friends, sing "Cumbaya", and rest safely in your cozy homes here in the good ole US of A.

    Before you question the validity of the war, please consider this:
    Q: When a bully slaps you, do you walk away, or fix the problem permanently? A: You beat the s**t out of them to teach them a lesson.

    That's what our folks are doing over there. God Bless our troops!

    Marines, GET SOME!!!!!!!

    Semper Fidelis,
    Sgt E

    February 12, 2010 at 6:56 am | Report abuse |
  12. Nathanael [desert voice]

    Sam Smith makes an interesting point: "what if we declare a "decisive" battle, but nobody shows up. It's not an impossibility, and it should be kept in mind. The Taliban may have totally blended with the population, or may have simply left using some underground route of escape. This would be a major embarrassment for those who advertise this as the "NATO's largest battle since 2001." If it is true that this is an opium hub, it is not impossible that the Taliban has only a token presence there, since theyir main business is fighting, not opium. Another unsettling possibility never heretofor mentioned, is the possibility of some guerrilla tricks surprising the troops. I dread to think about that. Will our soldiers know to deal with the following scenario: the Taliban decides to stage a phony surrender, by individuals or groups. There are dozens of mujahadin coming out with raised arms, in different areas. The soldiers swarm them, trying to take them prisoner. At that moment, like in the traditional movies from Central Asia, the mujahadin blow themselves up alongside with the soldiers with horrendously powerful bombs. Unrealistic? I would not be discounting this scenario. The soldiers must be prepared for that. Every step must be taken not to approach the surrendering Taliban! If they need be checked for arms, let them be ordered to strip preferrably by the Afghans who speak their language! I would never trust the Taliban!

    February 12, 2010 at 5:28 am | Report abuse |
  13. Ruslan

    You, Americans, your moral is rotten and your religion is power and money!
    You care about couple of whales in the ocean but in the same time killing hundred of tousand people only because of religion and just of hate. You are lunching rocket into space and going to contact alien races in universe, but not capable keep our planet in balance. You want only dominance! In your heads is only **** from CNNs and BBCs. You talk so much, for example, about Vietnam. Have you ever heard any opinion about this war from any Vetnam person? Eat your **** yourself. Your propaganda is not fo inteligent people. It is too chip.

    I come from Caucasus, my neigbors are chechens. In last 10 years Russians killed 250000 chechens! Why don't you invade Russia and protect us, Caucasian People? Saddam Hussein killed much less and it was enough to kill him! Kill Putin, please! Ah, sorry, you are now allays. You divided this world into zones and each is responsible for killing Muslems in their place.

    And you are very small and unintelligent, like your former president Bush, Americans! At first Russians invaded Afganistan, leaving it in blood! And now you, superpower! Imagine picture: 40 years old man beating 10 old boy! Wich side normal people will take? Wait! This boy soon will grow up!!!

    February 12, 2010 at 2:51 am | Report abuse |
  14. polondia


    February 12, 2010 at 2:48 am | Report abuse |
  15. 3 decade vet

    never be fooled again,our goverment is rotten,and are wrecking america,who is the REAL terrorists?

    February 11, 2010 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
  16. A. Smith, Oregon

    Broadway Blues has it right, if the CIA continues to order the American and Allied troops to not destroy every Opium field they can, this war is lost, over, un-winnable. No way and no how can America nor Afghanistan's puppet President Karzi compete with the bribes and money that flows from the billions collected by the Taliban thru Opium and Heroin sales.

    Those that offer the largest bribes in Afghanistan are the ones the locals will pledge their allegiance to, that is a fact and a long standing historical fact. American's coast to coast need to tell the US lawmakers to tell the CIA to go to hell and burn and destroy each and every Opium poppy field in Afghanistan the troops and airforce can reach.

    As long as those massive Opium Poppy fields in Afghanistan remain and continue expanding, the American and Allied war in Afghanistan is un-winnable and un-sustainable.

    February 11, 2010 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
  17. BiLL Cody

    3 Decade Vet
    If your name suggest that you are a 30 year veteran than I find it hard to believe that you don't support our Troops. Anyone in the military these days is a true hero. Those of us at home can feel safe and we should pray for their safe return home to be with their families.God bless America and all the brave Troops.

    February 11, 2010 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
  18. EISH5

    God bless our troops? I think that Allah may have other plans. We do not have nearly enough troops there to even slow down our defeat.

    February 11, 2010 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Marine mom

    Our son, our hero, our heart, our Marine is in Marjah. God bless our troops! They are the best of this great country. They will be putting themselves at greater peril in order to protect innocent life as they head into hell. Give me a soldier over a politician any day.

    February 11, 2010 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  20. occoni

    i think the allied forces must know that the afghan war is another version of vietnam. the starving is with respect to the core problem of afghan poeple. they used to be in a starving strait but their core interesting is the withdrawal of the foreigner

    February 11, 2010 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Broadway Blues

    MikeG....The Left blaming the Right and Right blaming The Left is precisely why there is gridlock in Congress. The two party system fails because of extremist on both sides. The Independent voter is the way to go. You can become part of the problem and not the solution when you take your parties position on every issue. Don't confuse warmongering with self defense. We all enjoy our freedom because we have brave solders willing to sacrifice the lives for that freedom. If you listen to what Islamic extremist are saying, they would like nothing better than to have the west under Islamic law. If you ignore what they say then you too can be accused of being unaware and clueless!

    February 11, 2010 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Dick Scott

    Marja is not a major city or town. It is a major irrigated cash crop farming district of some 30,000+ acres of land that was flat desert before 1950 when we started helping develop the largest irrigation systen in the country and setteling landless farmers an nomads in the area, (1946-79). Marja is an area with several scattered bazaar areas (farmers' markets) with the farmers mostly living on their land not in villages or towns. The government district officer (Wolis Wol) has an office in one of these bazaar areas.

    And the Soviets had a major battle there in the mid-80s when they had the mujahadin surrounded in the area, only to have them escape in the night leaving behind several soviet destroyed tanks, still there in the 90s. VOA may have an archive note on this event.

    February 11, 2010 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
  23. Mr S

    When will mainstream media learn that broadcasting our plans only hurts the mission. You all should rethink your priorities- even though we all know you wont.

    February 11, 2010 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  24. MikeG

    Wow, reading these comments really shows how unaware and cluless the warmongering right is.

    February 11, 2010 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
  25. Hayden Stevens

    Maybe we should send Mercenary Forces with troops to help.It would double the chance with finishing this!!!Free lance Mercs

    February 11, 2010 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
  26. Broadway Blues

    3 decade vet...the troops aren't bankrupting our nation. Congress are the ones bankrupting our nation. You know those idiots we keep putting back in the Senate and House of Representatives. We all are responsible for this mess. Our troops volunteered to defend this country and that is exactly what they are doing. The attacks on the Cole, the two embassy bombings and Sept 11,2001. were all acts of war. The troops are finally being given the personnel to finish the job and I thank them for their honorable contribution!

    February 11, 2010 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
  27. Raja Anand

    Booby trap NOT bobby trap. His name is Bobby and he set a booby trap . I hope one day all this isnt necessary....fighting....killing....I hope we can come together .Yes pray for the troops and pary one day we can all live peacefully.

    February 11, 2010 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
  28. Michael G

    God speed troops, Thank you for for letting me sleep at night as a father with my two daughters knowing that our troops are fighting the extremists over their and not so much over here anymore.

    February 11, 2010 at 9:36 am | Report abuse |
  29. Proud Canadian

    Just think for a second with an open mind...

    If there was religion in this world, all the atrocites and wars that have taken place in this world would have never taken place... the Crusades, the Jihads, the ethnic clensings... sad reality is that religion has divided and fractured this world and caused way more harm than good!

    The Muslims believe they are fighiting to a just war in the name of god for which they will be rewarded with a blisfull etrernal life after death, the West (admitedly or non) wages an idealogical war to preserve our way of life, which on the minds of most politicians is based on good christan values.

    I think the only wars we need to wage are against ignorance and the ideas of false gods.

    For all you hard liners: Where was god; When Katrian hit? When the fammines in Africa occured? When earthquakes killed over 400,000 people of all deniminations all over the world in just the past 2years... Should I go on??

    February 11, 2010 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |
  30. Joakim

    Democracy, we deliver...

    February 11, 2010 at 4:19 am | Report abuse |
  31. 3 decade vet

    to those cocky,arrogant marines,and army soldiers,temper down your hateful,dumb attitudes
    it,s old men that send young people to die,don,t allow hate to consume you,wait til you come back stateside,not much opportunity or hope,most of you vets be collecting va disability for post traumatic stress,or some other issue,military spending unraveled the ussr,same thing is happening here in us,military now is a place where people who can,t make it in the civilian sector,who whine like babies and get all the benefits,THANKS for bankrupting our nation troops!!

    February 11, 2010 at 2:42 am | Report abuse |
  32. Broadway Blues

    For those who suffer from some kind of memory loss...there were no foreign troops on Afghan soil until after September 11,2001. Terrorist training camps set up by Al Qaeda with The Taliban's blessing brought on the occupation of Afghanistan. Just a reminder to the pacifists!

    February 11, 2010 at 2:42 am | Report abuse |
  33. Pinoy

    I agree with pHenryorelse.
    You got it right.To rush an attack to a well entrench position is stupidity.Try proving attacks at opposing points or adjacent point to unbalance their position.Bait them to expose their position.Let them expend their ammos.Use unmanned tanks to takeout IED's and encourage them to fire their weapons.Create an avenue to let civilians to escape.Be careful,this might strap0 IED's in their bodies.Give them no rest.Blast them at night with rock music and fire at them when they pray.Use tear gas on house to house fighting.Our troops have an advantage on chemical warfare. Tear gas will incapacitate hidden taliban inside the house.This will flush them out.Happy taliban hunting.

    February 11, 2010 at 2:26 am | Report abuse |
  34. Broadway Blues

    Why are we not torching the poppy fields? If the poppy fields remain the operation is a failure because The Taliban will return for their biggest source of income. I have no faith in The Afghan Army holding the territory after we pull out!

    February 11, 2010 at 1:55 am | Report abuse |
  35. Edith DeLeon Guerrero

    My son is in the US Marines. The support and prayers for our sons and daughters defending our country and our freedom as Americans is all that they need from the American public. As a mother from a tiny island, it is comforting to know that there are people that truly care, appreciate and in support of our troops who leave their families behind and are risking their lives for all of us Americans. Thank you for your support and prayers.

    To all our troops, thank you, we are very proud of you, and God Bless You All!

    February 11, 2010 at 12:38 am | Report abuse |
  36. Meshawer

    Mujahid– That is a lie that the Taliban prohibit Opium –if that is so why is opium prodution highest in the area that is under Taliban control - In fact it was Abdul Rashid the head of of the Taliban anti-drug force when they were in power that said–"Opium is permissable because it is consumed by unbelievers in the west and not by Mulsims"– Nice try the Taliban expanded opium production when they were in power and still rely on it for income–you must live in Quetta with Omar–Sahee -Kah- Galat

    February 11, 2010 at 12:19 am | Report abuse |
  37. regis mentkowski

    i am so proud of our forces uguys rock warriors be safe god bless u all

    February 10, 2010 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |
  38. Mike

    All i know is that i wish i was there... but i am state side, watching from the sidelines. Go get some Marines. Semper Fi.

    February 10, 2010 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
  39. Mike Rogers-Oregon City,OR

    Well, They certailnly have my attention. Yes, Hearts & Minds is why WE are letting the Enemy know and giving reasonable people a chance to get out and come back to a better, Free Place to Live. One more thing, HOOAH !!!

    February 10, 2010 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
  40. Lois

    Yes Jen Our hearts are with you as well as our son is over there in this mess, God Bless our troops and bring them home safley!

    February 10, 2010 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
  41. Mitchell Marlow (Former MARINE)

    I am of the opinion that the Media's only place in War time is to document History. Some things need to be kept confidential in order to preserve the integrity of the operation. If freedom of speech is so important to the media...they may want to make a few sacrifices to preserve such privileges as they are not without a price.

    February 10, 2010 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
  42. Phil Moore

    My son is a combat medic in the Helman Province. I hope he and all the troops will be safe as they go about their jobs. He is the person i always wanted to be. He is the picture of the best of the best. He would give you the shirt off his back and goes out of the way to help you. I want everyone to know how special he is to me. I know in my heart he will help anyone who needs help as that is the way he is. I just want all the troops to be safe and come back home.I know they will be fine as they are the best in the world.

    February 10, 2010 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
  43. Jennifer

    One thing that has to be said........is the new tactic of training the Afghan troops. What is happening in this country is heart breaking. Remember that this is not the Iraq war....this war is about civil rights and the unfair treatment of these people. For those who oppose the war.....fustration is understood, but know that this war is not about oil or money....it is about the people.

    February 10, 2010 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse |
  44. A. Smith, Oregon

    Key to Victory? As long as someone is handing out sacks of 100 dollar bills from US Helicopters the Afghanistan people are going to appear agreeable. The moment those sacks of loot are gone, they'll line up to pledge allegiance to the Taliban and collect their money.

    When is America going to learn you can't really BUY true allegiance. At best you have a very temporary supporter that agrees not to interfere. All to often the moment American taxpayer dollars dry up in the massive hand-out's of sacks of 100 dollar bills to the local villages and clan lords, they'll turn back to the hand-outs by the Taliban.

    I suspect many of the Taliban fighters in the Marjeh region have already walked out of that area with the mass of resident's fleeing the potential war zone. And when the American and Allied troops leave the Marjeh region, the Taliban fighters will return and setup business as usual, is that the victory this article is speaking of? Displacing the residents and the Muslim fighters, then leaving where upon the residents and Muslim fighters return?

    February 10, 2010 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
  45. Ben in Oil City PA.

    To repeat: The US Generals in charge are puting out the word of the pending attack as part of their strategic planning.
    When are some of you going to work on that reading comprehension issues you've been having?

    February 10, 2010 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
  46. Proud Infantry Wife in AZ

    God bless OUR Troops who do what many fear. God Bless America.

    February 10, 2010 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  47. Tom

    Two things are certain outcomes of this operation. First, the Taliban will claim that coalition forces committed any number of atrocities and killed innocent civilians. Second, the western media will give the Taliban the propaganda victory it desperately needs by mindlessly reporting all these baseless accusations.

    February 10, 2010 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  48. That Mom

    Godspeed to all of our troops!

    February 10, 2010 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
  49. George

    What is all the trash about NATO troops, the U.K. have had almost 300 men killed since going to Afghanistan, this with a population at home of around a third of that in the U.S.

    February 10, 2010 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  50. Amjad Zahir

    Loosers can not be choosers

    February 10, 2010 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  51. bob

    heroine is an evil curse on earth

    February 10, 2010 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  52. Aunt Stephie

    God Bless our marine fighting in this mission and all our military. Stay safe. You are in our prayers. Semper Fi!

    February 10, 2010 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  53. bob

    jail the opium growers and let their sons plant corn or potatoes

    February 10, 2010 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  54. Elmer Morrow

    A few days from a major offensive and 30000 families of the service men and women are tryinf to keep up with the news of this event on the news, Yet CNN, FOX and MSNBC all want to talk about who is talking about who, or even a snow storm in DC, we all know that the republicans and the democrats dont get along and trust me we all know about the snow, Please keep us better informed about this mission, and who care if it is the first since President Obama took office, he is not the one on the ground looking down the sights of his M4.. God speed to all the Marines and Soldiers and may you all come home safely.. SEMPER FI, "Once a Marine dad, always a Marine Dad."

    February 10, 2010 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  55. rich

    ppl always send a msg of what they are doing for their enemy to consider, that does not mean this is the whole plan, just part of the politics... all wars must have some form of political solution, even if that means removing all of their political people and replacing them with ones we get along with. this has been our strategy but it has not worked, because we did this, have that peace, yet we still cause more fighting, it must be our own people that are violating these political solutions, or else there would not be any more fighting, the most obvious answer is for our leaders to hold our troops to our agreements, because we have these political solutions where we say one thing, yet we do another. in this case we say we want peace, but have a gun in their presidents face, yet tell him he's our guy we want in there, then we keep killing his people while forcing him to "go along" with us, so obviously, our military is one of the most broken corrupt chains of command since the nazis.
    we have air dominance and we have used it, it is pointless to have failed politics after you send the bombs because the fact is, we have only failed because of the war crimes by a few of our people, so we should just throw those guys to the dogs and give them what they deserve before they end up doing this in the next war because if they do it can cost us the victory and cost us our country and our freedom and maybe even our lives.
    lets put an end to military injustice and maybe they wont get us all killed.

    February 10, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  56. me

    GET THE HELL OUT OF AFGHANISTAN! GET THE HELL OUT OF IRAQ! sending your boys to die for what? you can't find one single man with all your power and your so called intelligence and technology. you call this a military? IT SUCKS BIG TIME. so stop sending people there to die and stop killing innocent civilians.

    February 10, 2010 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  57. K Ols

    My son just returned after 15 months in Afghanistan. He says everyone in Afghanistan is corrupt top to bottom and it all depends on the degree of corruption.

    His other accessment is the United States is it's own worst enemy because we provide them with things they can do themselves. They were constantly trying to get more ammunition and firearms because the police chief where he was was stealing and selling what the U.S. had given him and didn't give a rat's ass about the men under him having what they needed.

    He trained Afghan police forces and word got back that the police chief was telling Afghans to kill Americans. The police chief was forever trying to get other stuff like gas so he could turn around and sell it. The Afghans were supposed to be providing their own gasoline but always had some sob story about how they didn't have enough and he should give it to them because "Americans are rich and have everything."

    Also, apparently not where my son was, there have been several instances of the people we are training are killing their trainers or other U.S. troops.

    Just a hint of what really goes on in Afghanistan. The Afghan forces may never be ready to take the lead at this rate if they can't at least provide for themselves what they are capable of providing themselves. There also has to be some major incentive for them to stop fighting and consent to be governed by the Karzai corrupt government.

    I think Karzai wants us there because he knows when we leave he is a dead duck.

    February 10, 2010 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  58. brandon

    As for disclosing their plans to attack marjah, have any of you considered that this is perhaps a tactic to get the Taliban to either bolster their forces in Marjah (and thus draw forces away from elsewhere), thereby concentrating their manpower and giving the US military and coalition/Afghan forces an easier time of actually finding and fighting the enemy and overwhelming them with airpower? Or that, perhaps, as an alternative they expect the Taliban to flee from the coming onslaught in Marjah and thus relinquish the town to Coalition forces by default?

    I first thought this was a really bad idea, but after reading everyone's comments I kinda came to the above conclusion and it actually sounds like a really GOOD idea! I mean there's pretty much no way the Afghan Taliban can hold Marjah on their own so why not tell them we're coming and make them crap their pants (or even turn tail n run) in response?

    February 10, 2010 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  59. Troop Man

    Why are CNN and Foxnews putting this out for everyone in the world to read, including the Taliban... To me they are putting my fellow soliders in harms way with this news... Now the Taliban can set up more IEDs and other boobie traps to harm them.... I think this is why we are losing more people because the media is hurting us...and not the US Government like many people think....

    February 10, 2010 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  60. Joe M

    For all the free people that still protest, you're welcome,

    We protect you and you are protected by the best.

    Your voice is strong and loud, but who will fight for you?

    No one standing in your crowd.

    We are your fathers, brothers, and sons,

    wearing the boots and carrying the guns.

    we are the ones that leave all we own,

    to make sure your future is carved in stone.

    We are the ones who fight and die.

    We might not be able to save the world, well at least we try.

    We walked the paths to where we are at

    and we want no choice other than that.

    so when you rally your group to complain,

    take a look in the back of your brain.

    In order for that flag you love to fly,

    wars must be fought and young men must die.

    We came here to fight for the ones we hold dear,

    if that's not respected, we would rather stay here.

    So please stop yelling and put down your signs,

    and pray for those behind enemy lines.

    When the conflict is over and all is well,

    be thankful that we chose to go through hell

    "Some people spend a lifetime wondering if the made a difference.. The Marines don't have that problem" President Ronald Reagan

    VPD of Pfc Micheal .. 3/6 Lima deployed Afghanistan
    Joe M .

    February 10, 2010 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  61. C. K, Justus

    If the afghan people do not support their own forces and government, when this mission is all over, we should pull all our forces out of Afghanistan and come home and leave to fight or submit to the rule of Taliban.

    I would guess many would like that anyway so why waste American lives and resources to fight for someone who does not like us in the first place.

    It they want to be slaves, that is their business, if they want a country for themselves then they should be willing to spill their blood and resources to get and keep it.

    February 10, 2010 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  62. pete

    FYI- tens of thousands of troops don't sneak up on anyone. This battle is not a secret!

    February 10, 2010 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  63. jfeeney

    The fact that this is published here means that all the Talaban leadership, and important people have all left.This is how the Talaban ramian so hard to defeat. They throw all the new recrutes to the US military, and run off to fight another day. Now, if the US leaders had kept their mouths shut, and just all of the sudden surrounded the city in secrecy, and started to invade, you would have a much better chance of eliminating the Talaban leadership. You can't give them anywhere to run. Attacking at night, and during bad weather further increases the surprise. Gee, we use to know all this stuff. It must be more Pentagon arrogance. Oh George Washington, where are you when we need you.

    February 10, 2010 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  64. Albert

    Having been deployed to Afghanistan for 15 months I would say that this battle won't be as big as the media is stating. The taliban is a very resilient adversary. They have fighters in Marjah but just like the battle of Falluja I expect most of their hard core fighters are probrably out of there already. The key question is when we take over the town how long will we be there for? How many civilians will be killed? The Battle of Wanat is a clear blueprint of how the civilian population is important to our cause. The taliban has all the time in the world. This is where the Taliban are from.The Karzai government is very weak. I hope the ANA has improved because when I was there they were nothing more then a useless fighting force who had soldiers high on opium and hashish. Personally I think we are more effective with drone strikes and special forces units. We will not be able to eradicate this enemy but we will be able to chip at it like why we cut our nails.

    February 10, 2010 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  65. Some Guy

    @ Wayne...

    Marjeh already knows we are coming. There is an outpost not too far from there that has rapidly expanded within the last three months, and the Taliban have been observing the post intensively, while repeatedly providing harassment fire. The Taliban have also increased the fortification of the city in the past few months drastically, so I don't think that this post by CNN is going to have any impact on the operational security of our forces. The Taliban are more well informed than you may think they are.

    February 10, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  66. TomB

    I wonder if they have planned for a Taliban retreat? They know that they don't stand a chance against our military and once we push passed their road side bomb defenses, then it's either take to the hills or meet you maker. I just hope they contain this group and end their mahem right here and know. I don't believe they are people who can be repatriated into the society. They are barbaric savages who have no respect for their own citizens. Their idea of governance is through intimidation, hatred and illegal drug production. I just don't see what the citizenry finds appealing in the Taliban. It's not like they are providing water, sewer, electricity, roads, schools, hospitals, commerce or anything else of real worth to these people.

    February 10, 2010 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  67. TJ

    I find it quite hard to understand why the media feels that its ok to put the lives of our troops and our allies at risk by reporting on an Operation before it takes place and not after. Wonder why the whole city is booby-trapped? Its because they read our news to predict our next move. Its called OPSEC. Looke it up people.

    February 10, 2010 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  68. craig spencer

    You can have all the arguments you want, it is still stupid to brodcast a true plan to the enemy. It will raise our casulities idiots.

    February 10, 2010 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  69. Mom of 2 Marines

    God Bless Our Troops, Keep our guys safe, and God Bless America, Please pray for our young men and women who are being placed in harms way.

    February 10, 2010 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  70. AA

    After Decades of War, this country is ravaged, just cuz some foreign power wants to control the region for its own interest. Its time now that we let Afghan people decide for themselves without any foreign influence.

    February 10, 2010 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  71. pHenryorelse

    Did anyone ask if they wanted liberated? I'm sure many feel hostage to the situation, but why not let them vote with their feet. The coming battle will kill innocent folks caught in middle. Many families will be forced to sacrifice their teenaged boys in the defense of their hometown. The ruthless Taliban will undoubtedly blow-up a school of children again and blame the central government. Tribal war has favored the locals for eons. IF they stay and fight, martyrs will be created. Some of this is obviously unavoidable – it's war. But rather than liberate the unwilling, pacifist, enablers of this "village" of 80K, why not blockade. Create a corridor of security to help those willing to escape, glean intel, focus on containing the inevitable breakout, and then when all hope is gone level the place. The U.S. started an experiment hear over 50 years ago. The canals built by us will be used in it's defense. The planting season is coming. If they can't PLANT poppies, they can't sell, profit, or fund the Taliban. Turn the troops in a cirlce skirting the city for 7 days playing Hell's Bells. Or just over run the place and get picked off one IED at a time. The other towns "liberated" so far have stabilized...but the Taliban abandoned them. We finally have the central government troops in sufficent numbers to take and hold with the assistance of 30k more of our daughters and sons. But we have not engaged a dug-in Taliban in a "village" of this size since 01. here we come

    February 10, 2010 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  72. Chad

    I pray that God be with our brave warriors as they head into battle and that they all make it home safely. Thank you for doing what you do.

    February 10, 2010 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  73. Sam Smith

    "Imagine war breaks out and nobody shows up". This phrase is one of the possible outcomes of this pitched battle. Insurgents are notorious for evading attacking forces and stabing someone in the back while doing so. To declare this the deciecive battle is just plain stupid. Let's wait and see how it turns out. If all is well then history itself will do the declaration. If the push falls flat on its face because the Taliban sidesteped the attackers then the Afghan soldiers taking part will at least not feel like idiots lead into battle by even bigger idiots (i.e. the generals in the Pentagon who try to look good on TV and get an "analyst" job afterwards, i mean no disrespect to the troops on the ground!)...

    February 10, 2010 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  74. Nathanael [desert voice]

    Mujahid, you seem to be opposing those who have quarrel with Taliban. Are you a Moslem? Your post implies, if I read correctly, that "the Taliban prohibits the opium trade ... and we, the Coalition, support it." Where did you get this information? If this were true, why are we going to Marjah in the first place? My understanding has been that it is the Taliban who exploits the opium trade in Mariah to purchase arms. Many IED's made by Taliban have been paid for by the opium trade! These devices kill more Afghan women and children, than soldiers. But if you, Mujahid, know something that we don't, by all means post it here on the internet, so that we may change our opinion about Taliban and on the incumbent military operation.

    February 10, 2010 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  75. William Gale Nadauld

    Troops, fight with passion and justice. TAKE NO PRISONERS. THIS is the last war we will have to fight so, fight it in a manner you can be proud of. Dont worry about what the american public thinks of your efforts. YOU ARE HEROS. IF NATO WONT HELP,WE Will just do it ourselves. GOD BLESS YOU AS YOU SACRIFICE YOUR ALL FOR THIS JUST AND COURAGEOUS BATTLE. GO HUNT

    February 10, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  76. Bravo

    This will present another opportunity for our commandos to go out there & have real fun.....i cant wait to be called up a second time to waste those low lives taliban...

    February 10, 2010 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  77. Art Adams

    Good luck troops and God Bless you all!!

    February 10, 2010 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  78. Dick Essselborn


    The Afghans are a proud people who have repeatedly defeated foreign invasion forces throughout history. Now, their Afghan forces are pitted against fellow Afghans albeit Taliban. Question: Are not the Afghan Taliban born in Afghanistan, have family in Afghanistan, livelihood in Afghanstan? Then where will they go ? My recommendation is that they go to WORK!! We need to offer them employment to rebuild roads, sewage, waterways, schools, hospitals, etc. so they have an INCOME and can feed their families and send their children, including girls, to SCHOOL. In conclusion, instead of force, Afgthan against Afghan, use common sense and re-indoctrinate and re-integrate the Taliban with their own native society. Otherwise, they will prey on Pakistan and solicit sympathy and support from Yemen, Iran, Syria and all muslim young men who aspire to a common cause! Note: The majority of Afghans have probably never been to Kabul so their most important representative government is at the Village Chieftan level. The Afghan central government needs to spend more time and money supporting each of the 34 provincial governments in Afghanistan!!!

    This is not another Vietnam or Iraq – it uniquely Afghanistan for Afghanistan!!!

    Dick Esselborn
    Advocate for Afghanistan

    February 10, 2010 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  79. Marko

    It is interesting how Taliban were called freedom fighters during the Soviet invasion and now are terrorists just because they are fighting against the government that was imposed on them just like it was during the Soviet era by the United States, i don't know just saying.

    February 10, 2010 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  80. Harley Roy

    To MikeG, never a truer word spoken. How come nobody else seems to understand?

    February 10, 2010 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
  81. N.Ray

    Good luck, Marines!

    February 10, 2010 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
  82. janni516

    Forgive USAF and NAVY i meant to mention you as our US treasures as well.

    February 10, 2010 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  83. Ken sanders

    Hah Hah .. I knew it all along. It's the drug business that supports the Taliban. No Mun – No Gun. What a joke !!!!!!!!!!!!!! Take control of the poppy fields = GAME OVER !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 10, 2010 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  84. Jocel

    This stuff is real! I am supporting the mission from insid the wire but my friends are out there on this mission i wish them the best of luck and hopefully they come home safe we all want to go home...

    February 10, 2010 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  85. paul for canada

    what is this war about? WMD, OIL?? or OPIUM ??

    February 10, 2010 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  86. sean w

    So now all the taliban has to do to prepare for battle is watch cnn and figure out where the US is going to hit next.. nice that's another reason why I hate cnn and u f***ing journalist u guys kill soldiers like me.. ya sure free speech and everything until it starts killing americans. Non of u know what war is and u will never learn it or understand from so fake joe writing a story bout it cause they aren't even soldiers either and have no ideal about it yet we rely on them to write. Its bs if u ask me get a life, write about something u might know not war a**holes.

    February 10, 2010 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  87. Sonny

    It was the US military (ie, USMC general who led this ops and other big brasses) who "intentionally" announces the upcoming assault on Marjah, using the media to blow their horns for them. Yes, secrecy is often VERY essential in any military endeavors. Chief among them includes maintaining the elements of surprise to catch the enemies off balance (before they can plant IEDs, stockpiling weaspons/ammos) and of course prevent their escape. But this case is an exception for reasons that are obvious (for those did some basic research and careful reading before jumping the guns with wild, baseless conjectures). This would minimize coalition casualty by scaring off softcore paid Talibs and avoid collateral damages by allowing civilians to leave. While coalition forces lost the initiative by foretelling the plan of attack in advance, they will achieve the overall MsChrystal counter-insurgency strategy of protecting the Afghan noncombatants in populated centers that will–and here is the key that differentiates us from the Soviets who failed–working toward earning the mind and trust of the locals. Remember, the goal is not to actively engage the enemies (unless these cowards are brave enough to initiate fire mano a mano) as before but to expel them from the major cities and towns and leave them high and dried on the vines, eventually becoming less of a serious threat and more of a nuisance like the first few years after the invasion. MsChrystal lite based on Patreus-doctrine sounds counterintuitive but it has been provento work time and again–defeating insurgents by thinking like insurgents. This takes time and patience, something Americans are not known for as many of comments reveal.

    February 10, 2010 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
  88. Jen

    My brother is part of this operation, whether you agree or disagree with this war please continue to pray for our troops.

    February 10, 2010 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
  89. MikeG

    To those who wonder why our operations are being broadcast in the media : nothing of this nature is reported in the media, unless our government wants it there. It doesn't matter if it's CNN or Fox – the government will decide what gets seen or ignored. It's well known that the military is intentionally telegraphing it's presence and forthcoming attack to drive out the civilians the Taliban use as cover. They want to warn or scare off all of the noncombatants, so only hardcore Taliban or Al-Qaeda sympathizers will be left behind. Whether we broadcast it on TV or not, the locals know we are coming and know our every move – it's their backyard and they have been doing it to foreign armies for thousands of years.

    February 10, 2010 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
  90. Brian

    US Military forces frequently announce their intentions to their enemies. But when and where they actually strike so many times comes as a complete surprise. Don't think the US forces are stupidly giving away their plans. They are steering the situation in Marjah to a desired outcome.

    February 10, 2010 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  91. Mujahid

    The Afghan govmt is corrupt and was put in place by the US. also the NATO forces turn a blind eye to the opium trade, something which the Taliban prohibits. the occupation forces want Marjah so they can make money off of the opium trade. what gives them the right to go in to this city and brutally murder the people there? the occupation forces will know the meaning of resistance. FREE AFGHANISTAN!!!!

    February 10, 2010 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
  92. Patrick

    Arnie and Wayne, it seems obvious that this operation is no secret with or without media sources like CNN. Among other things, on Feb. 8th CNN referenced an interview with they did with Brigadier General Larry Nicholson back in December when he said the next major battle would be in Marjah. On Feb. 5th they point out that the military has been deliberately publicizing the upcoming operation for months now. The military has informed local government leaders in the area of the operation and had them spread the word to the people.

    It's an interesting strategy that may or may not work out, but it's absolutely the military's chosen strategy. CNN and others are doing what the US military wants on this one.

    February 10, 2010 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  93. BT

    Sorry, meant to send that comment to @Arnie, not Marty. I guess everyone's brain malfunctions sometimes.

    February 10, 2010 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  94. BT

    @Marty: Perhaps you should pay close attention to the news before you comment about CNN somehow blowing the cover on this operation. The Military leader of this effort was the one that disclosed this mission and intent to invade and hold Marjah. Why you ask? Because he said that common sense dictates to the enemy that it is the only direction left to go....Essentially he was admitting that the enemy already knows we are coming so there is not risk in talking about it.....Get a clue before you speak.

    February 10, 2010 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
  95. chris s

    The media is reporting our tactical operations because our military wants then to. Gen. Mc Chrystal is the one who has intentionally (by design) been holding press conferences and announcing it to CNN so the Talib's who don't wish to be killed will flee in advance – that's part of HIS tactics so please have a clue before you start media bashing (which anyone can do). If you want to bash CNN and CNBC and ABC than get them for something real – like making a continuous news story of out some knuckle head ex-governor from wasilla AK and keeping her uninteresting mug on tv every night.

    February 10, 2010 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
  96. JKF

    Absolutely correct views; the Afghan people need to win the war. Only when the Afghan gvmt deonstrates that it can serve its people will the war be won. The first part of that war, needs to be a demonstration that Afghan forces can win this battle, even with the aid of its allies; after 8 yrs of NATO "occupation" training results need to be demonstrated= Afghan forces can do the job, and they can do it professionally! The competence of the Afghan security forces will reflect well or poorly on the Afghan gvt and its allies. People may allow a continud "occupation" if they see postive results. Rapid restoration of nomality and services, after the battle, will help win the population over. Economics/jobs/services must play a key role after the battle=pay the farmers to grow food, it is far cheaper than dealing with the negatve impact of drug addition....etc.

    February 10, 2010 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
  97. wayne velzis

    why is the media reporting our tactical plans? this seems pretty dumb.

    February 10, 2010 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
  98. Arnie

    The Taliban doesn't have to look for sympathizers in the Afghanistan government or military to disclose upcoming coalition operations, they just turn to CNN.

    February 10, 2010 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
  99. Adam

    This is it. The point that the war all boils down to, Vietnam outcome or Desert Storm outcome... Good luck soldiers, USMC oorah

    February 10, 2010 at 10:02 am | Report abuse |
  100. RT

    An open question indeed about the mcivilian masses' trust with their military forces that are supposed to protect them (selectively?)!

    A lot has been said about the current Afghan head of Afghanistan being corrupt; problem is, with regards to interruption for a vested interst or two (or more) from a foreign entity, the interruptor/s must alays look for the fiercest lion in the locality – and why not?

    February 10, 2010 at 8:01 am | Report abuse |