U.S. Ramps Up Efforts to Drive Out Taliban

Over the past few weeks, small teams of elite American Special Operations Forces have been ramping up their efforts to target Taliban leaders in Kandahar, The New York Times reports. A battle in Kandahar, the Taliban's major hub, will test Obama's Afghanistan strategy in a big way: Not only will it challenge the strength and accountability of the Afghan government, but it may also reveal whether an increase in civilian casualties and fighting will dampen U.S. support among the Afghan people. The battle will be a step up from the U.S. offensive in Marja, which was smaller and less complex all several fronts. According to Shaida Abdali, the deputy Afghan national security adviser, Afghan officials "are still waiting to see the outcome in Marja... If you are planning for operations in Kandahar, you must show success in Marja. You have to be able to point to something. Now you don’t have a good example to point to there."