Test Case “Moshtarak”

NATO’s latest military offensive to “break” the Taliban finally kicked off earlier this week. The combined operation, the cleverly-chosen name of which means “together” in the local Dari language (a Persian dialect spoken in parts of Afghanistan), involves 4,000 US Marines, supported by 4,000 British troops, a large Afghan force and contingents of Canadians, French, Danes and Estonians.

Seems to me more like a “test case” for the new strategy for “winning” the Afghan war than anything else. How else to explain the fact the operation was widely publicized for weeks in advance, thereby allowing the Taliban to either safely flee the area well ahead of time or just temporarily go to ground, blending back in with the local populace (hence the “low numbers” of insurgent casualties and only sporadic resistance during the initial push).

Whether it will work remains to be seen. Of course, the true test of this new counter-insurgency approach will be in how effectively NATO delivers on its “nation-building” promises that comprise subsequent stages of the operation.