Noah Shachtman got an interview with Adm. Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and asked about the likely prospective NATO-Afghan offensive in Kandahar. Specifically, Shachtman wanted to know how a U.S. military that’s emphasized the need for local buy-in from Kandaharis for the attack is handling the fact that so far, the locals appear to be saying no. I recently got Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s spokesman to describe some of the commanding general’s efforts in that regard, and here Mullen basically seconds McChrystal:
Danger Room: So do you need have the elders or the people’s buy-in before an operation starts?
**Mullen: **I think you’ll see the same kind of approach that General McChrystal used in Marja [before the offensive there began]. They are going to meet with a lot of leaders before the operation. That approach worked there, and I think you’ll see it again.
The question then becomes whether NATO truly solicits local buy-in or simply declares that it’s got what it needs to attack. Mullen sounded pretty sure that no matter what, the offensive is on: “I think the operation in Kandahar, which have commenced, will go a long way towards doing that. So that’s sort of the next big step for me, is Kandahar.” (McChrystal has said that the “shaping” operations to secure the areas on the city’s periphery have begun.) That doesn’t sound like a man who’s prepared to take no for an answer.