The Afghan government has planted its flag in the former Taliban stronghold of Marja, declaring victory after two weeks of fighting in an offensive led by American forces. Marines are now mopping up pockets of resistance in Marja and the rest of Helmand province, and Afghan forces moving in to take on security duties. Is it fair to say that the Obama administration's push into Marja was a success, or is the hard part just beginning? (Watch a report about the Marja offensive)

This is the latest proof Obama's Afghan surge is working: The success in Marja is just part of the good news in Afghanistan, says Craig Charney in Newsweek. Though the Taliban are entrenched in Helmand province, their "grip is slipping in the rest of Afghanistan as President Barack Obama's 30,000-troop surge unfolds." Clearly, Obama's strategy of winning over Afghans by protecting them from the Taliban is working.
"The surge is working"

Invading Marja was the easy part: Sending in the Marines was bound to make a difference, says C.J. Chivers in The New York Times. But the plan for undermining the insurgency hinges on creating "robust, competent," and honest Afghan security forces to take over when U.S. soldiers leave. Judging by the "spotty" performance of Afghan forces in Marjah, success is a long way off.
"After push in Marja, Marines try to win trust"

Battlefield victory means nothing without a credible Afghan government: The gains on the battlefield will prove fleeting, says Ryan Mauro in Front Page magazine, unless the national government can establish local institutions the people respect. But the population "is disenchanted because of the widespread fraud" that got President Hamid Karzai re-elected. Until Karzai goes, the government will never have the people's trust.
"High noon in Marjah"


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