Editor's note: Peter Bergen, CNN's national security analyst, is a fellow at the New America Foundation, a Washington-based think tank tank, and at New York University's Center on Law and Security. He's the author of "The Osama bin Laden I Know."
American taxpayers have forked over around half a trillion dollars to U.S. intelligence services since the 9/11 attacks, yet nearly a decade after al Qaeda assaults on New York and Washington, the American intelligence community still cannot answer the most basic of questions:
Where is Osama bin Laden? Where is his top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri? And where is Taliban leader Mullah Omar?
Operation Moshtarak, which launched early Saturday local Afghanistan time, is expected to be the largest offensive in the nine-year war in Afghanistan. It focuses on the Marjah area in southern Afghanistan. CNN's national security analyst Peter Bergen gives his perspective.
Q: We know Marjah is important. From what you're seeing, does it look like NATO forces have learned some lessons from the past in the way they're going about it militarily and also the way they're going about involving the Afghan government and also the civilians there?
BERGEN: The biggest differences that we've seen in this whole operation from previous operations in Helmand is the size of the Afghan military force. You may remember when the Marines went into Helmand in July of last year - one of the big criticisms is there are very few Afghan soldiers that went along with them. Now it's very different in this operation. So that's one difference. FULL POST
A briefing, prepared by the top U.S. intelligence official in Afghanistan and obtained by CNN, maps out the strategy and strength of the Taliban and its allies in Afghanistan, and concludes that the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan is increasingly effective.
The briefing, which warns that the "situation is serious," was prepared by Maj. Gen. Michael Flynn last month. His assessment is that the Taliban's "organizational capabilities and operational reach are qualitatively and geographically expanding" and the group is capable of much greater frequency of attacks and varied locations of attacks.