New ISW Backgrounder: Phase Two – Holding Marjah

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Contact: Megan Ortagus
(863) 398-8164 cell
March 2, 2010

ISW announces the second installment in a series of reports on Operation Moshtarak with a play-by-play analysis of the NATO effort in Helmand

Washington, D.C. - The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has published a second installment in the Marjah series, Operation Moshtarak: Taking and Holding Marjah, with expert analysis by Jeffrey Dressler. This backgrounder offers a granular view of the unfolding military offensive in Helmand, with a play-by-play analysis of the largest joint operation in Afghanistan thus far.

"All eyes are now on Marjah; success or failure has ramifications beyond the town itself. In part, it is about seizing the momentum from the enemy to enable a zone of security across the contiguous belt of key population centers in the South," explained Jeffrey Dressler.

Mr. Dressler continued, "Military indicators show that Operation Moshtarak has been successful thus far but it is the longer term challenge of governance, justice, security and livelihoods that will ultimately determine success."

Download part two, Operation Moshtarak: Taking and Holding Marjah by Jeffrey Dressler

Key facts from the report

  • The hard core fighters staying behind include many foreigners. A compound search revealed photos of fighters posing with weapons, Taliban ID cards, and a graduation diploma from a training camp in Baluchistan.
  • There is ample evidence to suggest that insurgents are sheltering in and amongst civilians in crowded areas to purposely draw fire and cause civilian causalities. An Afghan Brig. Gen. reported that insurgents may have ordered women and children to stand on the roof of buildings where Taliban fighters are shooting.
  • One challenge for Marines and ANA will be holding the cleared terrain in order to prevent enemy fighters from reinfiltrating the area and conducting attacks.
  • Now that the Taliban and narcotics elements have largely been driven out, there will be a major push for crop substitution - mainly wheat. This will be a tough sell.

To view part one from this series, please visit ISW’s website.

To request Mr. Dressler for a media interview, please contact ISW Communications Director Megan Ortagus or (863) 398-6184 cell.

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The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) is a non-partisan, non-profit, public policy research organization. ISW advances an informed understanding of military affairs through reliable research, trusted analysis, and innovative education. We are committed to improving the nation’s ability to execute military operations and respond to emerging threats in order to achieve U.S. strategic objectives.