The long awaited American military effort in Afghanistan to replicate the so-called success of the “surge” is now underway in the province of Helmand and areas which have not seen American or Afghanistan soldiers in years. Operation Khanjar(Strike of the Sword) has poured thousands of Marines into combat with the Taliban in an effort to flood the area with so many soldiers it will be impossible for the Taliban to exert their authority. As General Nicholson notes, “the intent is to go big, go strong, go fast, and by doing so we are going to save lives on both sides.” Initial reports indicate many members of the Taliban are retreating to higher ground.
Unfortunately, the belief that following the success of the “Iraq Surge” will produce similar results in Afghanistan. But, it is still unclear as to the meaning or permanence of the Iraq surge. The surge itself stemmed initially from support of Sunni Awakening Councils which threw their men and arms into the fight against al-Qaeda. No such group exists in Afghanistan and without the support of local groups, no number of soldiers in themselves will be able to consolidate retention of land. As of this point, there is no evidence a functioning efficient government exists in Afghanistan.
Yes, American soldiers can proceed fast, but it is not speed that counts, but the support of the local population.