March 31st, 2010
07:32 AM ET

Officials: June push in Kandahar

U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan have their sights set on a June offensive designed to gain control of the southern city of Kandahar from the Taliban, according to U.S. military officials.

The assault on the Taliban's spiritual center will be the second major military operation to rid a southern Afghan city of Taliban control as the U.S. ratchets up pressure under the command of Gen. Stanley McChrystal. Officials said the main goal of the offensive is removing the Taliban before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins in August.

While a coming assault on Kandahar has not been a big secret, U.S. and NATO officials have not disclosed the timetable, only saying it would come sometime this year.

The U.S. military officials, who did not want to be identified because they were not authorized to talk about the mission, said they would expect the mission to last two months.

At a briefing to reporters Tuesday, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell would not confirm a timetable for the overall Kandahar offensive, but said an attempt to remove the Taliban from Kandahar had already begun.

"They've [operations] been months in the making, they began really when the Stryker brigade arrived down south and began their work on trying to secure the routes in and out of Kandahar," Morrell said, referring to some of the 30,000 additional U.S. troops President Obama ordered to Afghanistan last year.

"A lot of the preparatory work, the shaping operations that will be essential to ultimate success in Kandahar, are under way and have been under way, frankly, for months now," Morrell said.

He also said that U.S. military special operations forces have been going after mid- and high-level Taliban targets, as well as trying to persuade local tribes to work with the U.S. military and Afghan government.

Kandahar has long been a trouble area for the U.S. and coalition forces, and for the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The city had been the governing capital of Afghanistan while the Taliban ruled the country before the 2001 U.S. invasion. It remains steadfastly true to the Taliban movement, hiding many of its senior officials among a loyal population.

McChrystal has said the eventual offensive to take Kandahar will not resemble the recent operation in Helmand province to oust the Taliban from Marjah. That operation used a military force in a big initial push into the area. McChrystal said the operation in Kandahar will be a rolling series of operations.

Of the 30,000 additional U.S. troops sent by Obama, thousands will be moved to Kandahar to participate in the operation, the officials said. It is unclear exactly how they will be used, but many of them will be partnered with Afghan police as a security force, the officials said.

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Filed under: Kandahar • Pentagon • Taliban
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Guest

    I wonderful that the media feels the need to announce the offensive to the world. I am sure my husband and the rest of the NATO soldiers will be thrilled at the news!!

    June 1, 2010 at 9:02 am | Report abuse |
  2. guest

    Great going are we going to announce the exact day and time or keep the Taliban guessing.

    It was necessary to publicize this for what??

    April 2, 2010 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  3. MindSpirit ( Maurice )

    Maybe the timing of such an important Push in Kandaher should have been kept Secret...
    Taliban fighters also read the News, they may return to their hiding places in the 7 Tribal Zones along the Pakistan – Afghanistan border.
    Unless all those Tribal Zones are – cleaned up – a Victory again terrorism is likely to last for decades.
    i Salute those who have the Burden of restoring PEACE on this planet.

    April 2, 2010 at 2:10 am | Report abuse |
  4. Mario Berardelli, Montreal Canada

    Many of the NATO troops in this area are Canadian. And we have seen the Taliban insurgency`s ebb and flow for a number of years. The problem, of course is the enemy moving where we are not, Boots on the ground, with strong aerial support will fix this. And subsequent to moving in, there will have to be a concerted move to build and protect infrastructure for services and some support to agriculture and development. And what is most important is that the last part makes the first part permanent. Once presence is established we must make it last by bringing the local population stability and security and the Taliban will succumb because they have only this to offer the population. If we show the population that the changes that we bring with us are lasting, then they will turn away from the fools who caused so many problems for their country.

    April 1, 2010 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Daniel

    I expect to hear more of this unending,sickening bravado as this dispicable war drags on.But what does the average American care? Most Americans are not suffering from this horrific war and since the right-wing news media seldom reports on the carnage and human suffering brought about by this war,they will continue to tout it.

    April 1, 2010 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
  6. K9 in KC

    Brilliant. Let's tell them when we're coming. Maybe the Taliban will have some chai and naan prepared for us when we arrive at at each compound they live in! I'm guessing they're not stupid enough to hang around waiting for us to show up though. They'll just plant a gazillion ieds and take off like the cowards they are.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
  7. A. Smith, Oregon

    If the NATO troops are expecting the Afghanistan and Muslim troops to engage in the upcoming Kandahar fight, they should proceed before JUNE. As Ramadan comes in August a mere two months into the fight for a much large area than Marjah, you suddenly lose all of your Muslim troops, Afghan, Allied, NATO, American during the Muslim Ramadan observances.

    April 1, 2010 at 4:01 am | Report abuse |
  8. Mike in KC

    Thank you CNN for the reporting. It seems like every other news outlet has let the Afghan coverage fall off of their radar. My son is in US Army Special Operations and is currently deployed in Afghanistan. He can't ever say what he's doing so at least we can get some idea from articles like this one.

    March 31, 2010 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Iraq Paramedic

    Tell the soldiers who partner with the local police in Kandahar to watch their backs. Half of the local police are Taliban. The civilians are only loyal to the Taliban because if they are not they or their families will be killed or tortured. It is terrible to see what illiteracy, oppression & the twisting of GOD's word will do to people. May GOD Bless & keep us all !!!

    March 31, 2010 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
  10. SR Wakankar

    Ideological offensive is also very much needed.Non-Arab Islam of non-Arab Asia.I have given a long note to White House about this aspect of the problem. Whole AfPak is OLD HINDUSTAN.Non-Arab is the key-wordWe can defeat these terrorists through ideology also. The great ancient tradition of non-Arab (ie Hindu) Islam is no less than Arab Islam.But it never indulged in Imperialism, but became victim to Arab Imperialism, so could not find recognition and respect.Arab/Muslim invaders tried their best to completely destroy it.
    The Hindu word is very important word as far as Arab/Muslim Imperialism is concerned.
    Hindu means RESISTANCE to medieval Arab/Muslim Imperialism.It is a Persian word, but adopted by large number of Indians who refused to become Muslim because of Muslim invasion and persecution at the hands of Muslim rulers.India is the only country in the world which could survive so msny years of cruel Muslim rule.
    I have written in detail on this subject to White House. Please see my suggestions for the war in AfPak.Victory is sure. Best wishes.God Bless America.-S R Wakankar

    March 31, 2010 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |