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Report on Operation Moshtarak – combined Allied offensive

June 23, 2010

Some key points from a report on the combined operations.

Operation Moshtarak involved two simultaneous offensives launched on 13 Feb 2010; one by the US Marine Corps in Marjah, South of Nad-e-Ali, and one by the British-led Task Force Helmand (TFH) in North Nad-e-Ali. This paper provides independent analysis of the planning and conduct of operations by TFH.

The US Marines and Marjah
This report examines the success of the British-led operation in Nad-e-Ali. Progress has been slower in the US Marine-led operation in Marjah for entirely understandable reasons, discussed below. Hence, this report does not seek to suggest that the British Army is somehow better at COIN than the US Marine Corps; far from it. There is abundant evidence that through the hard, testing campaigns of Iraq and Afghanistan, the Marine Corps and Army have become very good at COIN.3 Moreover, in my interviews with many dozens of British officers (for this study and other research), there is universal appreciation for US COIN doctrine and practice, and for the US military partnership in Afghanistan.

The bottom-line is that the US Marines took on a far harder task. Before the Marines went in, Marjah was bandit country, under Taliban rule for the past two years and before that under the control of drug barons. Little was known by ISAF about the human terrain and insurgent disposition in Marjah.

In contrast, ISAF and Afghan security forces (ANSF) have gradually extended Afghan government (Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – GIRoA) control in Nad-e-Ali for the past eighteen months, and over this time public services and infrastructure have been developed with the support of the Helmand Provincial Reconstruction Team. Thus, in Operation Moshtarak, British and Afghan forces pushed into north Nad-e-Ali with excellent knowledge of the enemy force, with the consent of the local population, and the active support of district government. Rapid progress was hoped for and achieved in Nad-e-Ali. Equally, slower progress in Marjah is entirely to be expected.

full PDF of the report available here:
Appraising Moshtarak – PDF

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