Afghanistan: Lesson from Marja

 In Afghanistan
After the debacle in Marja, American and NATO civilian and military officials have decided to try a different approach in Kandahar, the second largest city in Afghanistan. Civilian reconstruction efforts are to be put first, with military operations playing a secondary role.

The prospect of a robust military push in Kandahar Province, which had been widely expected to begin this month, has evolved into a strategy that puts civilian reconstruction efforts first and relegates military action to a supportive role.

The strategy, Afghan, American and NATO civilian and military officials said in interviews, was adopted because of opposition to military action from an unsympathetic local population and Afghan officials here and in Kabul.

There are also concerns that a frontal military approach has not worked as well as hoped in a much smaller area in Marja, in neighboring Helmand Province.

These are all too rare signs that U.S. officials are learning from mistakes made in Marja. We’ve argued from the beginning that by relying on military force, we only worsen existing problems. Rebuilding efforts, development, and police and government training need to be emphasized if we are to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
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