Kabul, Apr.26 (ANI), Small bands of elite American Special Operations forces have been operating with increased intensity for several weeks in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan's largest city, picking up or picking off insurgent leaders to weaken the Taliban in advance of major operations, senior administration and military officials have said.
The battle for Kandahar has become the make-or-break offensive of the eight-and-half-year war.
According to the New York Times, the question is whether military force, softened with appeals to the local populace, can overcome a culture built on distrust of outsiders, including foreign forces and even neighboring tribes. he looming battle for the spiritual home of the Taliban is shaping up as the pivotal test of President Obama's Afghanistan strategy, including how much the United States can count on the country's leaders and military for support.
Meanwhile, two months after the Marja offensive, Afghan officials acknowledge that the Taliban have in some ways retaken the momentum there, including killing or beating locals allied with the central government and its American backers.
More than a dozen senior military and civilian officials, who are directly involved in the Kandahar operation, have agreed to discuss the outlines of the offensive on the condition that they not be identified discussing a pending operation.
Senior American and allied commanders say the goal is to have very little visible American presence inside Kandahar city itself, with that effort carried by Afghan Army and police units.
American and NATO officials are not eager to speak publicly about one of their biggest challenges.
Allied officials say they will be relying heavily on Afghan orces to take the lead in securing the city. (ANI)