The current offensive in Marjah is not only the largest in the 8 years the US has been engaged in in Afghanistan, but the White House hopes it will serve as a strategic blueprint for the rest of the war. The administration has been stressing the differences between the Marjah push and past offenses, the Washington Post reports, among them the troop makeup: For the first time, US and NATO forces are outnumbered by their Afghan allies.
The military is planning to stay in Marjah until the area has a working government and can defend itself—a contrast from past offensives, in which areas were no sooner won than abandoned. It’s also the first offensive to use Gen. McChrystal’s new rules of engagement, which are designed to minimize civilian discontent. He’s ordered troops to stop raiding homes at night searching for insurgents, for example, and encouraged them to send Afghan troops in first. (Read more Afghanistan stories.)