Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Operation ACHILLES

Keep an eye on this:
"Nato and Afghan forces have begun what they say is their largest offensive against the Taleban in the south.

Operation Achilles will eventually involve more than 4,500 Nato troops and nearly 1,000 Afghan soldiers in Helmand province, the alliance says.

Most of the Nato troops will be British, with US, Dutch and Canadian troops also taking part.

Last month Helmand's governor said up to 700 insurgents had crossed to fight British forces.

The operation began at 5am local time (0030 GMT) and will focus on the northern part of Helmand, said officials.


"This is the largest multinational combined ANSF [Afghan National Security Force] and Isaf [International Security Assistance Force] operation launched to date and it signifies the beginning of a planned offensive to bring security to northern Helmand," the head of the alliance's southern command, Dutch Major General Ton van Loon, had said earlier.

It would focus on "improving security in areas where Taleban extremists, narco-traffickers and other elements are trying to destabilise the government of Afghanistan", his statement said.

The operation in Helmand, where thousands of mainly British troops have been fighting daily battles against the Taleban, was launched at the request of the Afghan government, Isaf said.

The rebels have been engaging British forces around the Kajaki dam - a strategically important hydro-electric plant that the military wants to secure so that it can be repaired and put to work.

"Strategically, our goal is to enable the Afghan government to begin the Kajaki project," the statement said.

"This long-term initiative is a huge undertaking and the eventual rehabilitation of the Kajaki multi-purpose dam and power house will improve the water supply for local communities, rehabilitate irrigation systems for farmlands and provide sufficient electrical power for residents, industries and commerce," Maj-Gen Van Loon said."

As Phibian says, the dam is key. This is counter-insurgency 101, but it bears repeating. You win by giving the people a reason to support their local government and the side of order, as opposed to whatever snake-oil the insurgents are selling. One of the best ways to do that is get infrastructure up and running, which is why insurgents target said infrastructure so often. Operation Achilles is the start of an attempt to break the insurgency in Helmand. Ending the insurgency in Helmand is key to breaking the back of the overall insurgency.