Well the Moshtarak offensive is well under way and there’s lots of reporting out there on it. If you’d like some more info, may I suggest:
Start with this backgrounder by the Institute for the Study of War titled, Operation Moshtarak: Preparing for the Battle of Marjah. A nice 6 page (2 of which are notes) paper which does quite a good job of providing some context to the battle . As a product I thought it was well organized, nicely edited and adequately sourced (although I wasn’t familiar with many of those sources and so wasn’t able to evaluate those). I’d be really happy to see a product like this come out of a shop I was working in.
The NY Times has some nice graphics if you’re looking to build your own TOC. They also link the articles to the specific maps. It’s nice but some basic operational graphics would help explain the story a bit and wouldn’t compromise operational security any more than the text does.
The other big news of the day is that Abdul Baradar has been in custody for a few days now (prepare for blather about coddling him for not ripping his fingernails out or hooking up a car battery to his genitals). The timing, coming simultaneously with the operations in Marjah may be fortuitous for Gen. McChrystal. I’m just happy we got someone other than another ‘number 3 man’ in the organization.
The Atlantic discusses the possible implications with it’s own roundup of the issue.
Steve Coll keeps us from getting to giddy from the good news:
The Taliban are weak and vicious, but they are not dumb. Strategic withdrawal has been at the heart of their war strategy since the fall of Kandahar in December 2001. For the Obama Administration’s policy to succeed, U.S. and Afghan forces must secure Afghanistan’s major cities, its major highways, and as many provincial towns and populated rural areas in Taliban country as possible, and by doing so, persuade the Taliban and their allies that they cannot stage a second revolution anytime soon – and so, therefore, should consider political negotiations. Afghanistan is a big country. Kandahar is critical to the Taliban. Whatever the durability of the current operation, the Helmand River Valley is not likely to be this war’s decisive locus.