OK, I guess there is a role for the military in Afghanistan, after all

Well, I guess when it comes to nation building there's nothing like a few thouand troops, after all:

Thousands of U.S. Marines descended upon the volatile Helmand River valley in helicopters and armored convoys early Thursday morning, mounting an operation that represents the first large-scale test of the U.S. military's new counter-insurgency strategy in Afghanistan.

It looks like the nut of the operation is this:

The U.S. strategy here is predicated on the belief that a majority of people in Helmand do not favor the Taliban, which enforces a strict brand of Islam that includes an eye-for-an-eye justice and strict limits on personal behavior. Instead, U.S. officials believe, residents would rather have the Afghan government in control, but they have been cowed into supporting the Taliban because there was nobody to protect them.

Obviously time will tell whether or not that "belief" is a valid one. The one thing that's clear tonight is this: The operation in Afghanistan is exactly what the Washington Post calls it: Obama's War.