Kandahar Offensive Postponed Until Fall: McChrystal

The offensive planned for this summer to clear and hold Kandahar city will now be delayed until the fall, Afghan commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal tells the Financial Times. The delay will give commanders time to evaluate what went wrong in Marja where a major offensive earlier this year failed to secure the area from Taliban insurgents.

Speaking to reporters at NATO headquarters in Brussels today, McChrystal said operations in Kandahar would be “more deliberate” than initially planned: “I think it will take a number of months for this to play out. But I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. I think it’s more important we get it right than we get it fast.”

McChrystal said there must be visible progress in southern Afghanistan by the end of the year, certainly before NATO’s annual summit in November. After nine years of war, he acknowledged that patience among Afghans, as well as NATO allies, is wearing very thin.

Assessing operations in the Helmand River Valley, he said the major lesson was that the Afghan governance piece, the “build” component of the “clear, hold and build” strategy, must be more robust.

I thought this comment from McChrystal on the difficulty of counterinsurgency was particularly telling:

“Unlike conventional military operations where you circle a hill on the map and then you take the hill, when you go to protect people, the people have to want you to protect them.”

— Greg Grant

  • Davis

    I could post a comment stating my opinion on the Marja and Kandahar offensive but, I think I will stare at that picture for a while longer instead.

    …that is one hell of a picture.
    God bless America.

  • Matt Musson

    Picture reminds me of busting hedgerows in Normandy.

  • Will

    Please ID the vehicle in the photo

    • Cole

      Believe it or not, I think it’s a Stryker due to the round top cover over the gun, the IED jammer, and the slat armor. It looks tracked, though, in the picture, but think that’s an illusion.

      Some might question destroying a mud compound wall that Afghans worked hard to build, thus violating COIN principles. Probably due to suspected IEDs in the road or during a raid, the compound gate was locked?

      • Engineer

        It is a Stryker. The cover on top was something they stared to add in around 2005 - work pretty good for shading.

      • Engineer

        Can’t spell - “I are and Engineer”

    • DevilPup

      looks liek a modified M113, but could be a stryker. its deff army based on the passenger’s uniform

  • joe

    “Unlike conventional military operations where you circle a hill on the map and then you take the hill, when you go to protect people, the people have to want you to protect them.”

    They keep saying Marja was a failure…How about saying “The Afghan Governments part of Marja…the “Government in a Box” was a Failure”…I think the Marines kicked some serious butt for having almost both hands tied behind their backs due to the ROE and the whole way this whole Fiasco war is being ran…

  • Sev

    Here’s another leaflet warning we gave to Japan: “America asks that you take immediate heed of what we say on this leaflet.

    We are in possession of the most destructive explosive ever devised by man. A single one of our newly developed atomic bombs is actually the equivalent in explosive power to what 2000 of our giant B-29s can carry on a single mission. This awful fact is one for you to ponder and we solemnly assure you it is grimly accurate.

    We have just begun to use this weapon against your homeland. If you still have any doubt, make inquiry as to what happened to Hiroshima when just one atomic bomb fell on that city.

    Before using this bomb to destroy every resource of the military by which they are prolonging this useless war, we ask that you now petition the Emperor to end the war. Our president has outlined for you the thirteen consequences of an honorable surrender. We urge that you accept these consequences and begin the work of building a new, better and peace-loving Japan.”

    You should take steps now to cease military resistance. Otherwise, we shall resolutely employ this bomb and all our other superior weapons to promptly and forcefully end the war.

  • Armchair Warlord

    Wow, the media is reaching on this one.

    McChrystal puts out some pressure to walk back the media’s expectation of instant success in a counterinsurgent fight (an expectation which they somehow developed regarding the fight in Marja, where the Taliban is being inexorably crushed over a period of time similar to that elsewhere in Helmand) and all of a sudden we’re desperately changing our plans in the face of defeat on the battlefield.

    Give me a break. The only dates that are changing are the ones in journalists’ heads.

    • TMB

      Tuesday in November. That’s the date those people care about.

    • glock

      McChrystal set the expectations and the press regurgitated it.

      Reality sucks.

      • Armchair Warlord

        I don’t recall General McChrystal setting any expectation of quick success. The press idiotically read into what was described to them (preparations to quickly set up a local government, provide services, establish security, etc along with an attempt to coerce Taliban in Marja to leave beforehand) and decided that the operation would be short and painless.

        What I recall actually being said was, “we’ll be able to tell if we’re on the right track in three months” - three months passed and we’re definitely on the right track, but the fight is a long way from over.

        The press has a bad habit of making up their own version of reality and then criticizing people when their fantasy world doesn’t match the one the rest of us live in. Now that sucks.

  • Drake1

    I was hoping we may be able to turn this war around like we did in Iraq, but given Karzai’s recent behavior and his apparent attempt to make a separate deal with the Taliban and Pakistan… I think we lost it.

  • 3rdGroupDad

    All a political game with our troops as the playing pieces. Only these pieces aren’t just removed from the board, they die!

  • Whitedevilair

    OPSEC is a wonderful thing

  • blight

    Considering the pitiful literacy rate in Afghanistan what’s the point of dropping leaflets? The Taliban will still come at night and leave a bullet at your doorstep and tell you to leave if you are unliked, and we’ll still come in by day, at random, and blunder into an IED or an ambush…

  • Engineer


    The point of my original post is warfare isn’t, by it’s very nature, “NICE”! In fact war is nothing more OR LESS than bending the WILL or another country to that of your own - period. After that mission is complete a country can then make “nice” to build the country back up - but only after the country has been completely defeated. In WWII we completed the mission first and then began the effort to rebuild. We went after the enemy no matter where he was (we didn’t let international boarders stop us) and we destoyed him - completely. And yes, in the case of both Germany and Japan we killed hundreds of thousands of people - no appologies.

    You are right we don’t do it that way any more, but the nature of war and the formula for success has not changed significantly in a thousand years - just tactics and weapons. So the question is, are we “doing” it right?

  • Engineer


    The point of all this is WAR is a nasty business, and if you have the political will to carry it out (as we did after 9-11) you better get down to the business of killing people QUICKLY (no matter where they are) before you lose the WILL of your own people!

    Sounds bloodthirsty? Yep!! Thats the point isn’t it!!! We, as a nation have forgotten what real war is. But we have also forgotten the point of war which is to make a statement to all those nations (or religious groups) who in the future might chose to “have a go” at us.

    So much for “Limited Warfare”!!!!

  • JoeAmerica

    In other words McChrystals tea partys with the locals is not working out.

    I hate war because their is only one way of winning it. Can anyone say Dresden Germany?

  • Proud Dad

    Why wait? my son has been there 2 1/2 months has been shot at, had the MRAP hit with an IED, and saw a Lt killed while disarming a roadside. While the Tailban set back, reload, and kill as many of our guys as they want. While we use the Mr. Rogers approach to this war, just love everyone in the neighborhood. Let’s stop playing with US lives and take care of business, clean up and get our boys home.

    • RogCol

      And the sad part is that within a year of when we withdraw, the state of Afganistan will be just as it was when we went in. The Tali’s and warlords will be in charge. If they stay home and do not entertain those who would kill us, so be it. Either go medieval or come home.

      • Drake1

        They already live medieval…going medieval won’t make a noticeable difference.

        • Sev

          We went in to take out Alqaeda. NOT to build a democracy for a bunch of 3rd world goat screw3rs!

          • TMB

            In other words this entire war on terror should have been fought in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Pakistan.

          • Sev

            The entire middle East pretty much. And Yemen and Somalia. Iraq and Astan are in my view, two fronts of the same war. And there are many more fronts to come. This war will not end until either Islamism is gone or we are. We can decide what the end result is and I’m going for the latter.

  • roland

    In addition to this, I think we should also add focus on the location where the military put down the no. 3 Al Quida leader. It could be the same location where Osama, his high ranking officials and most of his miltant were hiding. Bear in mind our first mission in Afghanistan is Osama bin Ladin before the Talibans way back September of 2001.

  • Dean

    If Gen Patton had been in charge this ‘war’ would’ve been over with years ago and every ‘insurgent’ would be dead or hung and the country would’ve been rebuild by now. The longer this thing takes the more they ‘the people’ are going to hate us.
    Our Generals are acting too much like Montgomery, way too slow, too cautious, and too stupid.
    Let’s put a General in charge who can light a fire under everyone’s ass and get this thing over with and won with honor.

    • roland

      We cannot do that, if we do, all arabs will be against us.

      • Dean

        Roland, that is a ridiculous way to run a war.
        Did all of Germany and Japan ‘hate’ us during WWI? Of course they did.
        Are the German and Japanese people “against us” now? No, they are our allies.
        In the Arab part of the war respect is much more important then being ‘liked.’
        So maybe if we can get this war over with and start rebuilding the country like we did with Germany and Japan then maybe more Arabs will ‘like us.”

        • roland

          What we need is good intel/ good recon, recon airships, drones,good strategy and exact location of Osama Bin Ladin, its generals and military arm. and not a long war. And I believe he was on the location where the military put down its no: 3 al-quida leader.

          • Engineer

            That is all part of fighting a war, but Dean is right on the money with this one - win the war first and then worry ’bout who does and doesn’t “like” you. I would much rather the world respect us than like us.

          • Wembley

            You might like to look back at how badly the heavy-handed Russian approach fared in Afghanistan.

            This is an insurgency. It is not like WWII. It cannot be won without getting the civilian population onside: that doesn’t mean “liking us”, it means not siding with the insurgents.

        • Engineer

          Amen brother - preach it!!!!!!!!

    • Tenn Slim

      Gen Patton would indeed have kicked some serious B…
      As to rebuilding, Omar Bradley would be better suited.
      Gen MacDouglas,,, would probably have enjoyed prowling around the countryside, looking for a good beer still. Seriously, COIN ops take forever, work only if the DC Admin supports same, and only if the Locals can see some fiscal gain. COIN Ops look great on maps, white papers, and articles, but the Troops have to be specially trained, equipment useage is different and tactics are the key to success.
      Gen Patton would have loved the open sweeps, and the population would probably just go over into the nearest Stan till he left.
      Semper Fi

  • M.G.Halvorsen

    Vietnam…With sand…Here we go again. “Those who fail to learn the lessons of History are condemned to repeat them”.

    • Thomas L. Nielsen

      “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

      Those who do learn from history are doomed to make new mistakes.

      Those who learn only select lessons from history….why, they are merely doomed.”

      Make up your minds as to what we’re in Afghanistan for. Are we there to liberate the Afghan population from an oppressive and evil regime and give them some measure of personal liberty, or are we there to rid the world of international terrorism, and the ends justify the means?

      Regards & all,

      Thomas L. Nielsen

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/ThePaganTemple ThePaganTemple

    So they’re waiting until fall, then they’ll be pushing up against the next Ramadan. Then of course, all of the “moderate” Muslims of the world-you know, the ones that don’t agree with the radicals-will be screaming that we should respect Ramadan and wait until its over. Seeing as who our commander in chief is for now, I hope MacChrystal finishes his mission in a hurry.

    • blight

      I remember hearing that Mohammed launched attacks during Ramadan but not totally sure. And I don’t recall if the insurgents did the same, I think they have..

  • TMB

    Some of them believe they will get brownie points for killing infidels during Ramadan.

  • Devil pup

    the operation in Marja was a failure from the start, not cause the Mrines didnt do tehir job, but because the Afghan gov and people refuse to do theirs. the refuse, flat out refuise to shoulder the responsibility to support themselves, and bitch at us when someone gets shot in crossfire. they forget, their country is a war zone and they damn well need to start acting like it

  • roland

    What our men in uniform (USA) needs is the exact locations of the enemy to prevent from being shot and ambushed. They needed an eye in the sky, say skybus or what they call it overhead reconnaissance or strastospheric UAV’S already being tested and should be used as airship recon. This overhead reconnaissance fly up to strastopheric level or at 15,600 ft far above handheld anti aircraft missile flieght. Also thru this they may find the most wanted man like Osama Bin Ladin and their army. http://www.dodbuzz.com/2010/05/11/osd-eyes-near-s…

  • roland

    Also the civilians should be ask to leave the combat zone as they may become a victim of freindly fire.

  • Jedguns

    March the troops in backwards. the Taliban will think they are leaving. That will work, I’m sure of it. That picture is freakin’ weird!!

    • roland

      History tells us the chances a civilian being hit in a cross fire was very high. Places like Helmand, Torkham to Jalalabab. News reports tells us of civilian casualties on cross fire in this urban cities. Kandahar is the second largest city of Afghanistan and it compose of 450,000 + civilians and the chances of them being hit in a cross fire is very high. They should be warned thru air-drop liflets thru jet planes or thru its President warning to leave the combat zone or they will be endangering themself in a crossfire on a combat zone. http://revcom.us/a/091/afghanistan-en.html

    • roland

      See also: http://cursor.org/stories/civilian_deaths.htm

  • Bob

    The Arabs and Muslims respect a “Strong Horse”. We are not acting like a strong horse. We are acting like a weak pony. We are begging for affection, when we should be demanding respect. However, under our system of government, the civilian leadership controls the military. Aour war fighters must do as their commander in chief orders. Obama has already shown that he is willing to tell the generals and admirals how to fight wars. Also, our civilian leadership has refused to identify who and what we are fighting. They refuse to accept we are fighting a religious war.
    Given all these facts, do your really expect a good ending?

    • Engineer


  • andouzy

    i am no sure that america can win a war.american militaries are so incompetents!!! How can you win a war if you warn enemies months before that you are comoing to fight them!!!! enemies are not stupid like americans! enemies know that its fire power is very inferior to US one so they adapt theyu avoid fight when american think that they win enemies come back and begin its attrition war .It is like in vietnam.American or nato forces will be tired by that so long and will pull baclk later in great defeat!!!!!

    • Bob

      Don’t blame the military. Blame the politicians the run the military. Our military has to answer to the civilian political establishment. The politicians, and news media, lost the war in Viet Nam, not the military. One political party in particular makes no bones about the fact that it is anti-military and anti-war. That party has been that way since the war of northern aggression a hunderd and fifty years ago.

      • Wombat

        You do know that every war since the Civil War (minus Iraq and Afganistan) has been started by a democrat right? Even the Mexican-American war was. I would hardly call that anti-war.

        • Bob

          I call it stupid. WWII was started by the Japanese, when they attacked Pearl, then the Germans declared war on us. Korean war was started by the Norks when they invaded the south. LBJ expanded Viet Nam for political reasons. Agreed Spanish American War, WWI and Viet Nam were the result of bad decisions by liberal democrats. The current one will probably get us into another war much bigger than what we have now.

  • Dean

    Insurgents cannot eat dirt and drink sand and they don’t pay their fighters with IOUs-they need support. Forget about all the sitting down and drinking tea-it’s not working and it takes way too long. In my opinion, this is how you win this thing. First, completely seal the border with Pakistan, let the civilians know (drop leaflets or something), we have a shoot first ask questions later policy. Second, we take out their money supply, destroy all poppy fields asap (compensate the farmers for their loss and help them grow other cash crops). Third, wipe out all bases of operations, big and small cities by first surrounding the city or town, dropping leaflets the day before telling civilians to leave, check ID and weapons of all civilians, put them in temp shelters and such, then go in the wipe out anything and everything that moves (but start with heavy artillery first, then send in the boots). Next, take out all of the warloads by giving them an option, join the civilized world or die. Lastly, resettle the civilians who lost their homes and such and start re-building the country, a.k.a. Marshall plan for the ‘Stan). The insurgency would be wipe out within 6 months and we’ll start rebuilding but we’ll leave a permanent presence there much like Germany and Japan and we teach them how to be democratic and how to govern.
    P.S. we won’t allow China or any other communist country to come in there after the fighting is done only NATO counties will be allowed.

    • Cole

      Your points:

      1) How do you think we could seal the mountainous or open desert east border when we can’t do it along Mexico? How many troops would that take and how do you supply them since there is no north-south road right on the border.
      2) Then the Taliban “taxes” the farmers you just paid and kills those refusing to pay
      3) What bases? Every city and town? How many troops will that take and what stops them from dropping their weapons, blending in, and then killing all cooperators afterwards? Heavy artillery…are you kidding me?
      4) “Warlords”…you might have a point, but does that include President Karzai’s brother who is allegedly involved? Who decides who is guilty of what crime, and how do you enforce a punishment when they bribe the judicial system or Karzai pardons them?
      5) Seems to me we are TRYING to build this nation but elders are tricky about shifting funds their way, folks get jealous of others, everyone wants a cut, and the Taliban “taxes” recipients. You can’t be next to every house every night.

      Not so simple is it?

    • TMB

      Dean, if your plan was even feasible, there would only be a handful of Afghans left in the whole country. The civilians in Afghanistan don’t carry IDs. There’s no such thing. Right now there are no other “cash crops” to be grown in Afghanistan. Most of the country is illiterate and won’t read your leaflets. The insurgency would never die because you just wiped out countless homes and innocent Afghans and they have no reason to work with you. The Soviets tried for a couple decades to teach the Afghans to be more like the “civilized world” and that was one of the reasons the insurgency started for them.

      • Bob

        It ought to work, but we don’t have the political guts. As far as sealing the border, it can be done. We havn’t sealed the border with Mexico because the politicians want the Illegal and Mexican vote.

  • Wombat

    I find how many armchair generals here seem to be missing the fact that we have had total military dominance in Afghanistan for _years_ and we haven’t gotten very far in terms of making the country safe. This war is far more the Vietnam than WWII, in that there is no war industry to destroy, no large decisive battles to fight or any capital city to capture. If we kill civilians and destroy thier homes we are just reinforcing what the Taliban say we are there to do. To end the war you have to stop the flow of recruits to the enemy and turn public opinion against them, like what was done in Iraq. That means not removing them from their homes, killing indiscriminatly or destroying cities. You have to prove to them that we are there to help and that the Taliban is the real enemy not us. Terror will only breed more terror.

  • Engineer

    Wombat - WAKE UP!!!!!!!!!!!

    It’s war! Things get destoyed in war - ask the germans - ask the Japanese. Hell, for that matter, ever heard of GEN Sherman? Some called him a terrorist, but as violent as he was, he was extremely effective.

    Yep, civilians are going to be killed - too bad. God forbid we ever have something like that going on in the US, but part of the statement we want to make in Afghanistan is DON’T F***ing MESS WITH US!!!!

    I’m no “armchair general” - just a Major who is tired of geting deployed because our real general have forgotten that war isn’t by it’s very nature pretty.

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