By William Tucker
Over the last year, U.S. led troops have been conducting operations against the Taliban in Helmand Province, and yet the largest battle in that area appears to be on the Horizon. The city of Marja, located to the east of Helmand’s capital Lashkar Gah, is a Taliban stronghold and also happens to be the center of opium trafficking. If the ISAF is able to successfully eject the Taliban from the area it could have a significant impact on Taliban funding.
Thus far, U.S. and British Special Forces have entered the city and begun targeting insurgent and Taliban leadership. Because of the terrain surrounding the city it would be extremely difficult for ISAF troops to cordon off the city prior to an all out assault making the use of Special Forces in this capacity necessary. Making matters worse the terrain favors the defenders thus necessitating the use of irregular warfare to preempt the use of conventional forces. This coming week has the potential to open up some options for the ISAF in the impending negotiations with insurgents wishing to reconcile with the internationally recognized government in Kabul.
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