Operation Moshtarak: Major Offensive in Helmand

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Contact: Megan Ortagus
(863) 398-8164 cell
February 11, 2010

ISW announces a new series analyzing the battle for Marjah, providing weekly assessments of Operation Moshtarak by Jeffrey Dressler

Washington, D.C. - The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has released a new backgrounder,Operation Moshtarak: Preparing for the Battle of Marjah, which is the first installment in a series of publications analyzing the battle for Marjah by Afghanistan expert Jeffrey Dressler. As this large scale operation unfolds, ISW will continue to provide weekly on-the-ground assessments of the major fight brewing between coalition forces and the Taliban.

"The significance of this operation, led by U.S. Marines in coordination with coalition and Afghan partners, cannot be underestimated as it is the largest joint operation in Afghanistan since 2001 and the first major test of the additional U.S. forces President Obama ordered last December," explained Jeffrey Dressler. Prior to their deployment, Mr. Dressler briefed Marines at Camp Lejeune on his comprehensive work on Helmand province published last fall by ISW.

Download Operation Moshtarak: Preparing for the Battle of Marjah by Jeffrey Dressler


Key facts from this backgrounder include:

  • Operation Moshtarak (Dari for "Together") is largest joint offensive involving Afghan forces to date. Unlike previous operations, one battalion of Afghan troops will be paired with one battalion of U.S. Marines.
  • Marjah is a major Taliban stronghold in Helmand province and remains the command and control hub for the insurgency. Marjah is also considered to be one of the main narcotics centers in Helmand.
  • The Taliban has formed or forced an alliance with local opium farmers, taxing each factory at a rate of $1,200 per month. The Taliban has also installed an elaborate shadow government in Marjah including judges, a mayor and a tax collecting committee.
  • British Special Forces and U.S. Navy SEALs have commenced shaping operations, killing and capturing top Taliban commanders and dropping leaflets "warning the [insurgent] fighters to leave the area or be killed."
  • In preparation for Operation Moshtarak, insurgents have constructed tunnels and bunkers, brought in heavy weapons, set booby traps and strewn landmines around Marjah. It is reported that 90% of the population remain in the town, trapped by IED belts that ring navigable terrain.

To request Mr. Dressler for a media interview, please contact ISW Communications Director Megan Ortagus mortagus@understandingwar.orgor (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. www.UnderstandingWar.org