A four-day operation by 100 Afghan soldiers and 15 U.S. Marine advisors has achieved what 10,000 British troops failed to do over a decade, it has liberated the Kajaki District of eastern Helmand Province in Afghanistan. Operation “New Hope” was conducted from January 16-19 and (according to U.S. officials) it was a stunning success.
The Kajaki District is best known for the controversial Kajaki Dam, which was supposed to supply hydroelectric power to southern Afghanistan, but its potential has never been realized due to constant Taliban attacks. The area has long been a Taliban stronghold. Last week’s four-day sweep did not result in any definite Taliban casualties, nor did the Afghan/NATO force apparently suffer any casualties of their own, but it was a complete success. According to Marine Colonel Mark Garcia, the goals of the Operation were to “bring peace and stability” to the area and he proudly reported on January 24th that “all mission objectives had been achieved.” As NATO and the Pentagon always tell the truth, that means that the Taliban have apparently been utterly destroyed in eastern Helmand and peace now reigns. Colonel Garcia issued his ridiculous pronouncements from inside the safety of the Marine fortress at nearby Camp Leatherneck.
One only has to Google “Operation New Hope Afghanistan” to see that this Pentagon propaganda has been picked up and republished throughout the Internet. Along with this fantastical story are a series of 35 Marine photographs of smiling children and proudly advancing Afghan National Army troops.
It is one thing for military officials to emphasize the positive aspects of their combat operations, but it is another to intentionally deceive the American people. The press releases and stories issued about this operation by NATO’s Regional Command Southwest are simply false. Major General Charles M. Gurganus, who commands this region should be removed and face disciplinary action. If the Marines want to report success, they should achieve success and then they would be reporting the truth. Making up phony stories of liberation does not advance the war effort. Exaggerating the performance of Afghan forces achieves nothing. Deceiving the American people should be a courts-martial offense.
U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan James Cunningham, to his discredit, has posted these fabricated Marine reports on the U.S. Embassy’s official website. This damages the image of the United States as it requires Afghans to look elsewhere for honest information and legitimate war news. While there is extensive corruption within the Afghan Government, is there any less corruption within Western governments? The bright line that once existed between the Taliban and the West has long ago faded. The West has failed to provide a model that anyone else would want to copy.
This sweep into Kajaki is like pushing water away; the water always flows back. Nothing was liberated, and there is neither peace nor security. While the Americans are leaving, the war continues.