More Marines to Now Zad and Election-Centric Counterinsurgency

BY Herschel Smith
5 years ago

There is discussion about whether to target the population centers in Afghanistan with counterinsurgency forces, or focus on the rural areas and smaller villages.  Really, this discussion and debate have been going on for years, starting back during the Russian campaign.

The Russians focused on the population centers (e.g., Kandahar, Kabul, etc.).  The Taliban owned the roads, the villages, and the mountains.  Thus they were able to recruit, train, raise funds, and interdict logistical lines.  In short, the cities became like prisons for the Russian troops.  Focusing on the cities was a losing strategy for Russia, and it will be as well for the U.S.  On the other hand, a winning strategy doesn’t relegate the population centers to Taliban control either.  Enough troops must be deployed to address the needs of both the rural and urban areas.

The case of Now Zad is especially unique, in that the population has deserted Now Zad and the Taliban control it as their R&R getaway.  It isn’t even necessary to work to separate the insurgents from the population – they have done that for us in Now Zad.  We can kill Taliban in Now Zad unhindered.  Yet the campaign in the Now Zad district remains under-resources, at least until now.

Hundreds of U.S. Marines and Afghan soldiers have moved into southern Afghanistan to protect citizens during upcoming elections, military officials said.

Afghans will go to the polls on August 20 to vote in second presidential election since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001. Provincial elections also will be held that day.

About 400 Marines and 100 Afghan soldiers moved to the Now Zad district in Helmand province Wednesday morning, a U.S. military statement said.

“Our mission is to support the Independent Election Commission and Afghan national security forces. They are the ones in charge of these elections. Our job is to make sure they have the security to do their job,” said Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson, commanding general of the Marine Expeditionary Brigade in Afghanistan.

“While we encourage every Afghan to exercise his right to vote, who he or she votes for is none of our business.”

The area in which the operation was launched has been known to be a Taliban stronghold, and American, British and Afghan forces have been involved in fierce battles with Taliban militants there in recent weeks.

The Captain’s Journal has rejected population-centric counterinsurgency in favor of lines of effort.  But if we’re not conducting population-centric counterinsurgency at the moment, we are conducting election-centric counterinsurgency.  There is much focus on the upcoming election – too much, in fact.  The election will prove to be far less important than the campaign against the Taliban and other important issues such as corruption within the Afghan National Police.  Furthermore, the question for Now Zad will not be whether the election comes off, but what happens to the additional troops once the election is over.

In other parts of the Helmand Province, Marines are entering Dahaneh for the same reasons – the election.

The Marines are in the Now Zad district so that the people can vote.  They should be there to kill Taliban and make sure that the people can return to their homes and be about their lives.



  • davod

    “They should be there to kill Taliban and make sure that the people can return to their homes and be about their lives.”

    Please. Have we not adopted NATO’s rules of engagement.

  • Pingback: The Captain’s Journal » Have we taken Now Zad?


You are currently reading "More Marines to Now Zad and Election-Centric Counterinsurgency", entry #3587 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Afghanistan,Now Zad and was published August 12th, 2009 by Herschel Smith.

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