4 years, 5 months ago
About 4000 U.S. Marines have been unleashed from Camp Leatherneck into the Helmand Province, Afghanistan. The Marines have been in the Helmand Province, home of the indigenous insurgency, for more than a year, in both the districts of Garmser and Now Zad. But Operation Khanjar – “strike of the sword” – is the largest one time systematic deployment of U.S. Marines since Vietnam.
There are various (perhaps slightly conflicting) narratives. On the one hand, “Our focus is not the Taliban,” Nicholson told his officers. “Our focus must be on getting this government back up on its feet.” But it will be a long, long time before the Afghanistan government is on its feet and relatively free of corruption, and perhaps even longer before the Afghan National Army is not deeply affected by drug use and addiction, even during patrols and other operations. It is also believed that at the battle of Bari Alai the Afghan Army was treacherous in their behavior, even colluding with Taliban fighters to kill help U.S. troops.
It has also been said of the new operations that “the measure of success will not be enemy killed. It will be shielding the Afghan population from violence.” But population-centric counterinsurgency suffers from a singular focus rather than allowing many different focii in the campaign, including killing the enemy.
Fortunately, we have the words of Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson to help us wade through the various narratives.
Our job is to get in there and get it back [from the Taliban] … We don’t want to give the enemy one second to think about what he’s going to do. Because we’re going to be pushing so goddamn hard on the enemy. Our job is to go in there and make contact with the enemy — find the enemy, make contact with the enemy and then we’ll hold on. This is an enemy that’s used to having small-scale attacks and having the coalition pull back. There is no pullback. We will stay on him, and we will ride him until he’s either dead or surrenders …
There’s a hell of a lot of IEDs out there. As we get in there, we’re going to get a better feel for who these people are who are putting them out. We’re going to work the networks. And we’re going to kill the guys that have a chance to go out there and lay them …
We’ll kill and capture a hell of a lot of enemy over these next couple of weeks, I’m confident of that. And I hope the enemy does try to go chest-to-chest with you. It would be a hell of a big mistake …
Good. The Marines come from their experience in the Anbar Province, Iraq. Stay out of their way, don’t burden them with excessive red tape, provide them with logistics, and just sit and watch. The story is about to get interesting.
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