good egg heads

The points below come from a recent report by ISW (the Institute for the Study of War). They keep people informed on a war that many Americans think should not be fought. The first five points tell why it should. The last one is still up for grabs.

*Kandahar is strategic terrain because it is the heart of the Pashtun south, the birthplace of the Taliban movement, the former de facto capital of the Taliban government, and the home of President Karzai.

*For the Taliban, contesting Kandahar is important for their attempts to appear a viable rival to the Afghan government.

*Insufficient troop strength from 2005 to 2009 limited ISAF’s ability to target and destroy the enemy strongholds in three key districts: Arghandab, Zhari, and Panjwai.

*After the Surge troops’ operations in Kandahar, many of the fighters in Arghandab, Zhari, and Panjwai laid down their arms when it became clear the Taliban could not resist ISAF assaults. Some joined ISAF cash-for-work programs, which grew from several dozen workers to between 4,000 and 6,000 Afghans a day in Zhari.

*Coalition operations in Zhari also neutralized the enemy attack network along Highway One. In the first 28 days of October 2010 there were no kinetic incidents on the stretch of highway passing through Zhari, a change from early September when the Taliban were conducting five or more attacks a day.

*Despite this progress, restoring the Afghan government’s legitimacy is ultimately an issue of altering public perception, and progress made in building government capacity will achieve little if overshadowed by perceptions of corruption and factional control over the Kandahar government.

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