Since the current mission was announced far and wide in the media, I have wondered why so much information was being broadcast in such detail. Over at the MoD site (British), they address this, and the rationale behind telling all before 'our guys' began this offensive:
Progress of Operation MOSHTARAK
There has been media coverage of a briefing given yesterday, Tuesday 16 February 2010, to members of the press with regards to the progress of Operation MOSHTARAK in Afghanistan. Speaking to the media via satellite link from Helmand, Major General Nick Carter, Commander of ISAF Regional Command (South) in Afghanistan, and Lindy Cameron, the head of the multi-national Provincial Reconstruction Team in Helmand, said that attempts at driving out the insurgents and extending the influence of the Afghan Government are being achieved, despite mine and IED levels higher than anticipated. Click here to read more.
The decision to publish details of the upcoming offensive in Helmand province prior to the beginning of Op MOSHTARAK was a conscious one. The safety of our troops is of paramount importance and we do all we can to safeguard this. At no point did we disclose the day the operation would commence, or in fact the location. To suggest otherwise is wrong. It was a conscious decision by the operational commanders in theatre to signal that operations were about to take place to give the Taliban in those areas a choice - either to put down their weapons, choose not to fight and become part of legitimate society, or if they chose to fight, be subjected to overwhelming force and be defeated.
Operation MOSHTARAK was never going to be a surprise, the scale of our intent was clear for all to see. This year, the number of ISAF and Afghan forces assigned to Helmand will reach some 40,000. They have been sent there to seize the initiative from the Taliban, and the Taliban know it. It would be highly unrealistic to think that the enemy would be blind to this and we are fully prepared and expect them to put up a fight.
ISAF troops take the issue of civilian casualties seriously and demonstrate 'courageous restraint' if there is any risk to civilian life. We are fighting a counter-insurgency campaign; protecting the civilian population is absolutely key to our success and is at the heart of this operation, which is designed to make both the Afghan people and our own troops safer. Publicising the operation in advance reduces the risk to ordinary Afghans by allowing them to make arrangements to ensure their safety. [emphasis mine]
And the update? Read on:
More here on the MoD.. (and be sure to check out the 'related' links there.)
Progress achieved in asserting Afghan governance in central Helmand
A Military Operations news article
16 Feb 10
The key objectives of Operation MOSHTARAK, of driving out the insurgents and extending the influence of the Afghan Government, are being achieved, despite mine and IED levels higher than anticipated.
Speaking to the media via satellite link from Helmand, Major General Nick Carter, Commander of ISAF Regional Command (South) in Afghanistan, and Lindy Cameron, the head of the multi-national Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Helmand, have said that the deliverance of governance and reconstruction is already beginning in areas such as shuras (community meetings), reconciliation and 'cash for work' programmes.
The objectives of Op MOSHTARAK are to improve security and freedom of movement within the main population areas of central Helmand. Major General Carter said that the operation is 'at the end of the beginning', but a significant number of improvised explosive devices would require meticulous and thorough clearing that would take some time to conclude.
By securing the key population centres and economic arteries in southern Afghanistan, it is planned that Afghan security forces and their ISAF partners will pave the way for greater economic development and growth of governance.
Immediate stabilisation activities, led by the PRT, will follow on in areas as soon as possible after the clearing phase of the operation.
On the initial clearance phase, Major General Carter said it had gone better than expected and that all 11 objectives were taken in the first few hours of the operation, which happened on a pitch black night with no accidents.
In the key area of Marjah, he said that approximately two-thirds had now been cleared and that the rest would take several more days....