Operation Moshtarak: The Battle for Marjah

Operation Moshtarak (Dari for Together or Joint), also known as the Battle of Marjah, an International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) pacification offensive in the town of Marjah, Helmand Province, Afghanistan. It involved 15,000 American, Afghan, Canadian, Estonian, Danish and British troops and constituted the largest joint operation of the War in Afghanistan up to that point and aimed to remove the Taliban from Marja and eliminate the last Taliban stronghold in central Helmand Province.[10] The main target of the offensive was the town of Marjah, which had been controlled for years by the Taliban as well as drug traffickers. Although Moshtarak was described as the largest in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban, it was originally supposed to be the prelude to a much larger offensive in Kandahar that would follow Moshtarak by several months. However ISAF chose to heavily publicize the operation before it was launched, comparing its scope and size to the 2004 Second Battle of Fallujah, in the hopes that Taliban fighters in the town would flee. The operation was also designed to showcase improvements in both the Afghan government and Afghan security forces. ISAF claimed that the operation was “Afghan-led” and would use five Afghan brigades. General Stanley A. McChrystal, the commander of ISAF, also promised that following the offensive ISAF would install a “government in a box” in Marja.
Although initially successful, ISAF and the Afghans failed to set up a working government in the town, leading to a successful resurgence by the Taliban; 90 days into the offensive General McChrystal famously referred to it as a “bleeding ulcer”. In October the town was still described as “troubling”, but by early December the fighting there was declared “essentially over”.

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