This year is to be year of the COIN for NATO and the US military in Afghanistan. The much ballyhooed Marja operation was intended to be a prototype of this model, before COIN tactics were employed in a larger, more difficult, Kandahar operation.
Unfortunately, the recent news out of Marja is not heartening: 3 months after the US drove the Taliban out of Marja, families are fleeing in the face of Taliban terrorization. Population protection is integral to successful COIN tactics. A force unable to protect the civilian population cannot win the trust of the civilian population—without trust and cooperation, counter-insurgency operations are bound to fail.
The United States and NATO forces are in a particularly difficult spot in Afghanistan—the United States effectively ignored Afghanistan from late 2002 until 2008, giving the population there good reason to distrust Western statements of long-term commitment.