February 17th, 2010
10:18 PM ET

'Do we control all of Marjah? No'

[cnn-video url="http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/world/2010/02/17/abawi.afghan.offensive.day5.cnn"%5D

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.

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Filed under: Marjah • Operation Moshtarak • Taliban • Troops
soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. Nancy Ballard

    Hey Daniel,
    Did you ever hear the statment that it's sometimes best to remain silent and have people think you might be a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt!!

    February 19, 2010 at 8:20 am | Report abuse |
  2. Terry (father of a US Marine)

    Many of our young men are fighting and dying so that you can say what you want to say and stay out of jail. Have a little respect for those that are giving everything. Because of them you can shoot off your mouth and say most anything. Right or wrong.

    February 18, 2010 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  3. vince

    Obama and the troops are being opposed by the crazy right who will oppose anything a black president does and will cheer American casualties when they have a black commander-in-chief and the looney left who oppose any American military involvement any time any-where. What sick bedfellows these folks are!

    February 18, 2010 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
  4. David Rand

    So you have a problem with America having technology? Why?
    You'd rather the troops go fight like 1920 style trench warfar...like the Taliban would prefer?
    Lets all be honest...just don't like Americans...but..ask yourself:

    Is it OK for:
    – Taliban run out of their city instead of fighting like men..the few that remain, will soon die or hide like cowards amongst the local population.
    – Taliban to smother the locals in radical beliefs?
    – Smother the growth of kid's education
    – Deny equal treatment to women...by covering their faces and not allowing them to leave their houses withou a family member
    – Maintain their some what bleak lifestyle by manufacturing drugs for distribution nationwide

    Do remember...there are many other nations on the ground with the Americans..
    And yes, there are Afghanistan troops.

    I personally prefer that the Coalition would have allowed the Afghani troops to do this one alone...with some support..but let the Afghanis free the town. Yes, more would have dies etc...but that is the reality of the future...they need to stand up and take on the challenge.

    I don't think one more coalition troop should leave this city..just let the Afghan troops now spread out and go get the taliban..and kill off the blood sucking Taliban on the perimeter. Die for your Country, damn it....Why not...others are willing to die for your county.

    February 18, 2010 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  5. Michael in Chattanooga

    My question is this – once the poppy fields are destroyed and the drug lords deposed, what will the locals do for employment? How will Afgans feed themselves and their families if they have no income, once the jobs they perform in the poppy fields have been eliminated? If the U.S. and the U.N. can't find an anwser to this dilemma, the civil unrest will never abate and the region will continue to be unstable.

    February 18, 2010 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  6. Art

    If civilians remain in Marjah, why did we spend weeks dropping leaflets telling everyone in Marjah that we would be attacking their city in the near future?

    Are we to believe that all "remaining civilians" are deaf, blind and are illiterate?

    The way I see it is there are no civilians left in Marjah and what we see there is what we found in Korea and Viet Nam where "civilians" were just as dangerous as combatants in tracking our forces knowing that if they were spotted they wouldn't be fired at while being dangerous in being allowed to come close with bombs strapped to their bodies or carried.

    If civilians were not "off limits" to our troops the "next battle for a town wouldn't take as long as we could use our forces and technology advantages without being incumbered!

    February 18, 2010 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
  7. http://twitter.com/whybs

    If the ocean pirate situation is an indication, we have a great Commander in Chief – intelligent, decisive, and humble! He trust people who excel at execution and provide them proper guidance.

    Let's put aside our ideologues. Obama is one of the finest presidents of our time!

    Go Obama & our troops & don't lower our shields until we have thoroughly root them out or until we see Osama bin's head!

    February 18, 2010 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
  8. Hernand Parubrub

    I am so proud of our men and women fighting for freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those US soldiers that are being killed and wounded in the war were being sent back home for proper burial and treatment. What about those terrorist that are being killed? Where are they going to put them?

    February 18, 2010 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
  9. Raphael

    People will always have their own opinions and they are all respectable, but I'm seeing that many draw conclusions based on incomplete information. For instance Wayne, just because you have not heard of Afghan military deaths in this operation, it doesn't necessarily means none has happened.

    I've read all the comments and I continuously see that people pass judgment on what Obama does, doesn't do or should do, but I've never seen anyone saying what they are doing.

    We can only control what we do and if we are not part of the solution.......then.......we are part of the problem.

    I sure hope that things are happening for the best, I trust humanity will eventually become aware of what really matters and realize that the real enemy is the intolerance, the arrogant idea that we can dictate how other people should believe. I think no one is exempt of this, we all at certain point in our lives have done it, but what can we do???

    I do not know; that is something that each one of us should discern. Personally, I focus in the improvement of my tolerance.

    February 18, 2010 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
  10. JKF

    Taking a city, while minimizing civilian casualties, requires patience, time and a steady approach. The bigger problem will come about in the end stages, 6-8 weeks downstream, to ensure that the terrorists and their supporters are identified, separated from the civilian population, and removed from the city- forensic evidence needs to be collected from weapons, munitions, terrorist occupied areas, etc. The Afghan gvmt in the box, that will take over, needs to be able to provide services and needs to be able to control the lines of communications, to ensure that the terrorist can't easily return; the need will exist to provide such as a reasonably secure ID cards, to the population, so that the terrorists are twarted if they return. Unfortunately, all of Afghanistan still does not have a national ID system for its citizens- hopefully this will change starting in Marjah; such an ID system, principally, would be used to provide and account for services. Well let us hope that all these basic issues are addressed well.

    February 18, 2010 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
  11. Lou

    First- The US military is the best fighting forces, combined with a strong military leadership, and technology can control most battles.
    Second – We should be very proud of our forces taking on all tasks they are put to. Thank you soldiers!
    Third – Janet must be a dumb-a-crat bringing politics into a discussion of fighting forces. Even though our PUSA is the commander in chief, he has no experience conducting the military, leave that to the talented and trained military commanders, who risk their lives for freedom.

    Proud to be an American, and a VET.

    February 18, 2010 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
  12. Kevin

    Thanks for saying what I was going to post, Daniel you are truly an idiot IMP. And to Mr. Trainer who says we should be fighting Al Queda and spending our money on healthcare, who do you think we are fighting in Afghanistan, the Girl Scouts? Its the heart of Al Queda and we are trying to take out them and their close allies the Taliban, not sure how much more simple it can be. Good luck to our fighting forces and godspeed.

    February 18, 2010 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
  13. Moshpit

    Unlike ignorant Daniel, I realize that the US doesn't use Airliners to fly into Afgan buildings. Oh wait, the afgans don't HAVE buildings, they have mud huts! Yes, it takes millions of US dollars to NOT be a terrorist in warfare, unlike Daniel's little Taliban friends. The assault is going quite well, and I'm happily supportive of hunting the bastards who hit us on 9/11. I remember why we're in Afganistan, unlike ignorant children like Daniel.

    February 18, 2010 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
  14. Paul

    Yes, Daniel is an idiot.

    I am a retired US Army soldier, and although I am not an expert in warfare, I do have some knowledge in combat operations. The huge problem with this type of war is we are bending over backwards trying not to injur or kill any of the civilian population. That really ties our hands. The reason we were able to be victorious in WWII is because we conducted all out total war. The kind of war we are fighting in Afghanistan can be won, but it will take much longer, and it will take an American public willing to stay the course, something I'm not sure about. I agree we should try not to kill or injur innocent civilians, but we seem to take it too far, and besides, in the case of this war it is not easy to recognize who those "innocent" civilians might be; and the enemy does not fight under those same rules of engagement. We are at a disadvantage because of this.

    God Bless the US Marines and ALL US and allied forces.

    February 18, 2010 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
  15. Brad Rainier

    Maybe Daniel would prefer that we allow the country to go back to the Taliban so that they can continue to beat women, convert innocent boys to radical islam and test biolgoical and chemical weapons on dogs (as I have seen in previous videos.). Daniel- it is a person like you who is disgusting. Wake up and realize that there is a such a thing as good versus evil. The US is not perfect but we are not an evil nation. Leave this country if you think it is so horrible. God bless our troops and what they are doing to protect the world from the lunatics that reside in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    February 18, 2010 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
  16. Frank

    Insurgents retreat then come back, yes... but this offensive is a new idea designed at clearing the town then having the pre-trained Afghan authorities rule this town with laws, better economics, and a "hearts and minds" effort. If this works, it will be a major victory for all of the NATO supporters (including the US) and especially the new Afghan government itself! Yes, we have money and technology in our military, but clearing a village while keeping civilian casualties low is a very hard task, and keeping that city in the hands of allies when we leave is even tougher. The coalition forces are trying the right strategy here...

    February 18, 2010 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
  17. Scott Hill

    Daniel – You are an idiot.

    February 18, 2010 at 9:58 am | Report abuse |
  18. Wayne

    I understand that what most of the Afghan public in Marjah want is for US forces to take all the risk in removing all the dangers of every day life for them then get the hell out. I read that the Afghan forces aren't too willing to fight. I haven't heard about a single Afghan military death in this operation. Why are UN forces forced to die for these people who are not willing to fight for themselves? Yes, there are many questions in my mind about this entire thing.

    February 18, 2010 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
  19. Janet Van der Dussen

    I am so proud of our soldiers. Again, they have done a stupendous job. I wish we would see and hear more about the hard work they are doing to make the world a safer place and less about what Sarah Palin and Dick Cheney think. For the first time in almost nine years we are seeing some results in Iraq and Afghanistan. I feel safer knowing that Vice-President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton are on the job. They have demonstrated great leadership. And of course, I commend our President for chosing those leaders so wisely. I feel safer than I have in a very long time. Thank you. Janet

    February 18, 2010 at 9:21 am | Report abuse |
  20. Ankur_India

    This is a just war the U.S is fighting. However it will be a long and arduous one. Victory will not come easy and there will be doubts every step of the way. The U.S has now taken the correct path of focusing on the war of necessity but the American public will need to have a will of iron and guts of steel to see this through. For this is the third world war we are witnessing and will take many years to be won. There is no option but to take it to the conclusion and leave only when the Afghan civil society and armed forces are really strong enough to counter any Taliban/insurgency threat. A withdrawal before that will be disastrous.

    February 18, 2010 at 9:14 am | Report abuse |
  21. Harold Trainer, USAF RET

    Terrorism is the new communism designed by government to promote fear and justify why we fight and mitigate their failings. The war is good for Obama as he can justify his credentials on the fight against terrorism.. Meanwhile we are outflanked while we are still bogged down in Iraq and fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan when we should be after Al Qaida. The wars have cost trillions and continue to cost trillions when we could use this money for our own homeland defense. We lost 25,000 people last year because they did not have healthcare. That is a big threat to us. That is a real homeland defense need. So, what do we do? Fight two unnecessary wars, pass a defense budget of 708 billion dollars. Health care reform is needed for real homeland defense.

    February 18, 2010 at 9:07 am | Report abuse |
  22. Paul in Harrisonburg, VA


    February 18, 2010 at 9:02 am | Report abuse |
  23. Peter

    Do we control all of anything? Putting up an Afghan flag in a town in Afghanistan doesn't seem like getting ahead of anything but a perfectly normal action, ie. occupying one's own nation. I salute any token of normalcy for these poor, war-torn souls.

    February 18, 2010 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
  24. Mike

    Never underestimate your adversary. He may use what we consider primitive warfighting methods and equipment, but a determined enemy, poorly equiped, and seemingly not under any centralized command structure, can inflict serious casualties on our forces.

    Before you celebrate, give the guys on the ground a chance to do their jobs.

    February 18, 2010 at 8:56 am | Report abuse |
  25. Ahmad

    I doubt if this war can be won like this. I have been following the Pakistan military operations for past several years and in every military campaign, militants seem to follow the same pattern. They retreat and then come back later. They have left few hundred militants in Marjah to slow down the pace of movement of allied troops. Once the allied forces will claim full control of Marjah, a new game will begin. The Taliban will come back in small groups and start a guerrilla fight. What Pakistan military does is that they isolate an area, attack with heavy artillery shelling, declare victory and then either leave the area after few months (like South Wazirstan) or maintain the presence of very high number of soldiers in the area (like Swat, Quetta).

    Ideal solution is to capture areas and at the same time come to the negotiation table. This way a win-win situation can be created. Remember Marjah is just a small part of Afghanistan and military actions are part of the problem not the solution.

    I will not believe any claim of victory at this stage but i do wish that the allied forces win this battle.

    Ahmad (Lahore, Pakistan)

    February 18, 2010 at 8:33 am | Report abuse |
  26. Wild Bill

    Gospeed young men and women.

    February 18, 2010 at 8:30 am | Report abuse |
  27. Dan Nelson Lafayette,IN

    Are the Afghan security forces going in each home or compound with our forces to make sure that no Taliban or foreign fighters are mixing in with the population? I am sure that many will try to.

    February 18, 2010 at 7:58 am | Report abuse |
  28. Daniel

    The taking of Marjah by NATO troops never ceases to amaze me.I really don't know how in the world they manage that with their god-awful array of state of the art weaponry and their billions of U.S.dollars at their disposal.I thought they'd never do it.It must be nice to have all those killer drones on you side.But I guess President Barack Obama is really feeling tall in the saddle,riding his high horse and our military brass will be bragging about this for weeks to come.How disgusting and nausiating!!!

    February 18, 2010 at 7:35 am | Report abuse |