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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2708

Operations in Afghanistan to expand

Wajid Ali Syed from Washington

Washington, 13 August, ( : A US Defense Department spokesman says there will be more operations like the one launched in southern Afghanistan to secure a Taliban-controlled district in Helmand Province, and that coalition and Afghan forces will hold such areas after they drive out the insurgent forces. Defense Department Spokesman Bryan Whitman said Wednesday that the operation in Nawzad District was timed to clear the area of insurgents before next Thursday's Afghan presidential election.

"US forces along with our Afghan partners and the rest of the coalition that is there are trying to ensure that as we run up to the election that Afghans are going to have the freedom of movement to go to the polling places and be able to cast their vote, and to do it in a secure and unfettered manner."

He said that there will be more operations in the coming days and they will not stop after the election. "These types of operations you are going to see continue up until the elections, and after the elections. This is a sustained effort that will be ongoing throughout the country."

The operation in Nawzad, involving 400 US troops and 100 Afghan soldiers, is part of a larger operation by mostly US marines in Helmand Province. The offensives are part of the new strategy announced in March by President Barack Obama, and being implemented by his new commander in Afghanistan General Stanley McChrystal. The strategy calls for international and Afghan troops to secure more parts of the country, and then to stay in those areas to keep the Taliban out and allow the Afghan government to establish its authority and provide services.

It is a huge task, particularly in a country with a widely dispersed population and large areas of rough terrain. Several civilian experts called in to advise General McChrystal say he needs more troops, even beyond the near doubling already authorized and mostly already in place. But officials say the general has not yet decided whether to ask for more troops.

- Asian Tribune -

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