The US has been loudly announcing an offensive in Afghanistan for a month now. Just in case any guerrillas had missed the message, General McCrystal held a press briefing to make it absolutely clear that we would be attacking ... soon.
"The commander of foreign forces in Afghanistan said Sunday a major offensive will send a "strong signal" and clear insurgents from their southern stronghold, as residents fled ahead of the assault.
A huge force of US Marines leading NATO and Afghan soldiers is expected to launch the offensive -- said by commanders to be the largest assault against Taliban-led militants since the war began -- in Helmand province within days."
Yep, in a guerrilla war, where the biggest problem is that the enemy can just fade away back into the population or the mountains, the thing to do is to loudly announce a major assualt for a month in advance. Yep, that's certain to catch those evil Taliban guerrillas by surprise.
If defeating the enemy is your goal, these announcements are the height of stupidity. So, what this tells us is that defeating the Taliban is not the goal. What then might be the purpose of this horrible operational security?
1. Propaganda for the home front. The military has gotten a lot of front page news trumpeting an offensive that hasn't yet occurred. Easy victories for the media warriors since no one is fighting yet.
2. To convince all the rebels to leave, and thus allow the US and Afghans to seize this province without a fight. Note, in the fine print of these stories, the probably real reason for this offensive is disclosed. Helmand is one of the leading poppy/opium production areas in the country. What this is all about is taking control of what is a undoubtably a very lucrative province from one warlord and giving it to one of Karsai's enemies. Maybe they feel if they loudly announce this invasion in advance, there'll be less resistance and we are likely to lose fewer American soldiers in this noble fight to make sure one warlord controls the opium instead of another.
Of course, what's likely really happening is that the resistance is getting plenty of warning to establish safe houses, caves, supply caches, weapons dumps etc in order to serve a later fight. Most likely we'll soon see video of heroic American troops advancing without opposition to seize some city in this province. Months later, we'll hear how a base just blew up from tunnels that were dug beneath the site back before we ever invaded. Or maybe they just won't tell us that story at all.