The massive new assault under way in Afghanistan represents the new military strategy of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, writes Dexter Filkins. When the fighting is over and coalition forces have taken control of the Taliban stronghold of Marjah, the Afghan government will quickly set up government offices along with a police force. The idea is to push for long-term stability to get the civilian population on board.
In the past, coalition forces would win control of a region but not leave enough of a command structure in place to keep it. The Taliban would return, and the process would start again. Soldiers and Marines dismissed it as "mowing the grass," writes Filkins in the New York Times. Marjah is now seen as a crucial prototype. "More than at any time since 2001, American and NATO soldiers will focus less on killing Taliban insurgents than on sparing Afghan civilians and building an Afghan state." (Read more Marjah stories.)