As NATO begins one of its biggest offensives in Afghanistan since the beginning of the war, coalition troops face a multitude of challenges. Helmand province is known for its opium production and as a hub of Taliban activity. Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union," retired Gen. James Jones, President Barack Obama's national security adviser, said, "One of the ancillary benefits of where this operation is being conducted is in the heart of Helmand province, and that is the center mass of the drug production. Happily, last year for the first time in several years, the poppy production went down and wheat production went up, and so we'll see what happens this year."
Fact Check: Has poppy production decreased in a region of Afghanistan known for its drug links? FULL POST
CNN's Fred Pleitgen in Afghanistan reports more details about the civilians who were killed Sunday when two rockets fired by coalition forces in Marjah missed their intended target. Coalition forces fired two rockets with the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System at insurgents firing upon Afghan and ISAF forces, but they struck about 300 meters off their intended target, ISAF said.
On the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan: Instead of clearing the area and leaving as we frequently did in the past, our plans call for clearing the area, and holding the area, and then providing some building for the people there, better security, and better economic opportunities and more of an Afghan face, and then eventually transitioning to full Afghan sovereignty in those provinces. FULL POST
How will the outcome of Operation Moshtarak in Marjah affect the Obama administration? CNN Washington correspondent Kate Bolduan explains.
A lot is at stake politically. This operation is the first major offensive since President Obama announced he was committing 30,000 additional troops to fight in Afghanistan. And this can be seen as the first real test, at least, of the president's new revamped, refocused strategy in the region. FULL POST
UPDATE: 9:50 a.m. ET - Twelve Afghan civilians were killed Sunday when two rockets fired by coalition forces in southern Afghanistan missed their intended target, the International Security Assistance Force said. "We deeply regret this tragic loss of life," ISAF Commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal said in a statement. "The current operation in Central Helmand is aimed at restoring security and stability to this vital area of Afghanistan. It's regrettable that in the course of our joint efforts, innocent lives were lost." Read the full story
Coalition forces fired two rockets at insurgents firing upon Afghan and ISAF forces, but they struck about 300 meters off their intended target, ISAF said. The incident happened in Nad Ali district in Helmand province. FULL POST