Marines launched a large attack on Taliban forces in the Helmand River Valley
Some 15,000 U.S., British, Afghan National Army forces have launched the largest attack on Taliban forces since President Obama signed orders to send 30,000 additional U.S. troops to
The U.S. military has been eyeing the 85,000-person farming town of Marjain in the hostile
This did not happen in large numbers, however,forcing troops to fight around local farmers and enabling insurgent forces to use locals as shields. This all presents a test for Gen.
But the goal of clearing the town could take weeks, U.S. commanders say. There is no shortage of snipers, sabotage, and hidden bombs as many Taliban fighters remain dug in and prepared to fight. They have had the benefit of distressingly good cover--a network of tunnels and ditches built by Americans decades ago to improve agriculture have for some years now been used by the Taliban to hide out, and to transport drugs and arms.
As the offensive progresses, Pentagon officials have been closely watching to see how the Afghan National Army performs. The operation is the largest joint operation between Afghan and U.S. forces since the war began, and one battalion of Afghan soldiers has been paired with each Marine battalion.
The performance of the Afghan soldiers in the months to come is pivotal to the U.S. exit strategy. Obama has announced that U.S. forces will begin to leave
To this end, Defense Secretary
Senior defense officials expressed hope during Gates's overseas tour, which ended last week, that
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