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					 U.S., Afghan forces are set to seize
 stronghold
 But Taliban just digging

NEAR MARJAH, Afghanistan -- U.S. and Afghan forces pushed Tuesday to
the edge of the southern Afghan town of Marjah, poised to seize the major
Taliban supply and drug-smuggling stronghold in hopes of building public
support by providing aid and services once the insurgents are gone.


But the militants appear to be digging in, apparently believing that even a losing
fight would rally supporters and sabotage U.S. plans if the battle proves
destructive.

No date for the main attack has been announced, but all signs indicate it will
come soon.

It will be the first major offensive since President Barack Obama announced
last December that he was sending 30,000 reinforcements to Afghanistan, and
will serve as a significant test of the new U.S. strategy for turning back the
Taliban.

About 400 U.S. troops from the Army's 5th Stryker Brigade and about 250
Afghan soldiers moved into positions northeast of Marjah before dawn Tuesday
as U.S. Marines pushed to the outskirts of the town.

The U.S. goal is to take control quickly of the farming community, located in
Helmand Province 380 miles southwest of Kabul.

That would enable the Afghan government to bring security, electricity, clean
water and other public services to the estimated 80,000 inhabitants.

Over time, American commanders believe such services will undermine the
appeal of the Taliban among their fellow Pashtuns, the largest ethnic group in the
country and the base of the insurgents' support.
 McChrystal's gambit
Marjah will serve as the first trial for the new strategy implemented last year by
the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal.

He maintains that success in the eight-year conflict cannot be achieved by killing
Taliban fighters, but rather by protecting civilians and winning over their
support.All the Americans are talking about it and want them to flee.

Posted by:monisha
www.nunu_monisha.blog.com

				
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posted:2/10/2010
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