After the Afghanistan conference the week before last, when the outcome appeared to be the bribery of Taliban leaders, Gordon Brown announces 4,000 British troops are preparing to take part in the largest military offensive against the Taliban since the Afghanistan invasion in 2001.
The strike force, composed of British, US and Afghan troops, will storm into some of the most dangerous areas of central Helmand in a series of daring raids as part of Operation Moshtarak.
The offensive, the start date of which is being kept secret (although it is obviously imminent), will dwarf last summer's Operation Panther's Claw in which 10 British soldiers were killed and more than 100 badly injured.
The mission is designed to “break the back” of the Taliban in Helmand but commanders warned that casualties could be the highest of any operation in the eight-year war. Senior officers believe that there is a “real risk” that British forces could lose a Chinook helicopter laden with troops in the assault and warned the public to “steel itself” for casualties.
So this announcement is to prepare us for excessive casualties. No other country's troops are taking part.
In the past such operations have proved unsuccessful as once the British and NATO troops withdrew to their bases the Taliban returned.
Last month the UN condemned the Taliban's use of children as victims and perpetrators of suicide bombings. 'Children must be protected and not targeted,' UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Radhika Coomaraswamy said in a statement. The Taliban have ignored the UN and continue to train and use children as suicide bombers.
How ineffective the UN is becoming. It seldoms walks the talk.
Update: Captain Ranty has an appropriate post which can be viewed here.