The First Major 'Surge' Operation Shows Why The US Is Failing In Afghanistan

marjahA Marine during Operation Moshtarak, known as the Battle of Marja

Whistleblower Lt. Col. Daniel Davis was highly critical of the official story of the Afghan War and the 2009 surge while noting that Afghan security forces are “completely incapable of handling the job without U.S. presence” and even work with the Taliban in some cases.This week a group of 40 to 86 Afghan militia troops joined the Taliban-led insurgents. And this year has seen 19 attacks by Afghan security forces on coalition forces that have resulted in 26 deaths (including 13 Americans).

ISAF spokesman Brig. Gen. Carsten Jacobson said that every “single incident has an out-of-proportion effect on morale” at a time when the military is averaging a record suicide-per-day and PTSD is a growing problem.

Nevertheless, NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Friday that he believes Afghan forces are capable of securing their own country by the end of 2014.

HBO’s documentary “The Battle For Marjah” encapsulates these issues by following the first major offensive of the surge: a five-day mission to capture the Taliban’s largest stronghold of Marjah and “win the hearts and minds” of the Afghan people.

The prediction was that the battle for Marjah during February 2010 would become the model for how to win the war.

Capt. Timothy R. Sparks, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, is the commanding officer of 272 Bravo Marines who will be dropped in the centre of Marjah at pre-dawn

Bravo will be behind enemy lines and cut off from supporting forces as they penetrate the opium bazaar of Taliban commanders who have been preparing for months

The strategy: CLEAR out the Taliban, HOLD all ground seized, BUILD infrastructure and governance, and TRANSFER control to Afghan forces

The first thing they have to do is sweep for IEDs, a slow process that takes them away from their game plan, while men who seem like Taliban watch them from all sides

Since the main aim of the counterinsurgency is to win over the local population, Marines can only attack when an 'undeniably hostile act' is being committed

Bravo fights for 6 hours but are are still surrounded and have yet to secure a building

Marines fire Anti-Personnel Obstacle Breaching (A-POB) rockets to clear the path ahead; as Bravo swears at the Taliban, the internal conflict can be seen on the faces of Afghan security forces who are fighting against their countrymen

But that's not how it plays out as Afghans have to be pushed through doorways and are afraid to clear buildings

Bravo enters the village to drive a wedge between the Taliban and civilians, but all they hear about is how Afghans are afraid of being bombed by U.S.

By day three they are still surrounded and attacked every time they go out into the open; sniper fire is the biggest threat — a sniper fired four bullets over two days and hit three Marines

By now Bravo should have controlled Marjah, but the Taliban have been too strong; one Marine got hit in the helmet by a sniper about an inch above his eye

Drones film everything but requests for airstrikes must go through several levels of authorization – Bravo requests up to 40 airstrikes a day and most are denied while delays for approval negate others

After clearing the town, the Marines move on to building infrastructure and the local economy in order to win over the locals by allowing them to resume their daily lives

But no semblance of governance materialises because it is far too dangerous and security remains entirely dependent on Marines

Over the next three months $600,000 is spent to jump-start the Marjah economy and pay for a local militia, even though the Marines know many of the men may have been Taliban six months ago

Bravo lost 20 per cent of its fighting force in Marjah — one Marine killed, 34 injured — and consequently can't hold onto their control zone; Afghan civilians think that the Marines made their situation worse

The dangers of war will stay long after U.S. troops leave...

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