DoD Secretary Panetta surprised many – including the Karzai government – when he announced yesterday in Brussels that coalition combat operations in Afghanistan would be wound down by the middle of next year, 18 months before the scheduled withdrawal of US troops. He did so despite the fact that captured Taliban continue to believe that time is on their side, and that their movement is prepared to sweep back into power as soon as coalition forces withdraw.
They may even be right. But in between that time and this, the US Marine Corps is on the hunt for Taliban in Sangin and Helmand provinces. And in the meantime they will fight, and some may die. Writing sympathetically and evocatively in the New York Times Magazine, Luke Mogelson describes what that fight looks like, and will look like in the intervening time.
It’s a great read.