- this is a big effort;
- it is more focused on governance than before so the ultimate success hinges on the Afghans;
- ISAF is staying put rather than fighting and then leaving;
- the Afghan National Army [ANA] is a big part of the effort;
- much effort to minimize casualties, including announcing this effort ahead of time, deliberately removing any chance for strategic surprise.
- the Taliban types in the area;
- the Afghan population--to show them that ISAF gets it and is operating differently than in the past
- the Afghan government--that they better do well here, because they will have fewer excuses
- the publics in the US and other troop contributing nations--to show them that ISAF can be successful as much of the new conventional wisdom on casualty aversion (thanks to Peter Feaver) focuses less on body bags coming home and more on the perception of success. That is, people will be less opposed to a military mission if it is seen as successful.
PS I was thrilled to see that the Canadian OMLT [ELMO?] is in the effort, sticking with the Afghan battalion it is mentoring. Why? Because my presentation at the ISA in a couple of days will still be accurate!