Marine Dust-Off in Nimroz Province

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 9 months ago

Michael Yon has a must read on a great many subjects with several interesting themes, so drop by and pay him a visit – and then hit the tip jar for his good work.  One particularly interesting paragraph reads thusly:

Recently a mission was launched to Nimroz Province.  American Marines hovered in on two Osprey aircraft, secured the airfield (or at least brought a lot of guns), and later a British general landed in another Osprey and the meetings began.  The bottom line of the meetings was that we are not going to do much to help Nimroz Province.  It’s out of sight and out of mind.  The American way of doing things, along with British moral support, is to give money to people who are blowing you up and to ignore those who are neutral or helping you.  The meeting was as impressive as it was meaningless.  Swoop in on the loud Opsreys, set up machine gun positions, make a show of how nice it is to take off your body armor, talk a lot with nice words, and leave in the loud Ospreys.  Waste of time.  And if you dare try to calculate the hard and soft costs of that mission, it had to have cost well over a million dollars.

Well, Michael’s article is informative and compelling as always, but this part is depressing.  I have long feared – and written – that the Marines are losing the perspective and experience base they gained in the Anbar Province.  All I can say is that this sounds very much indeed like a worthless exercise.  And it also sounds like the British have affected the Marine perspective way too much.

Taking body armor off is irrelevant.  I know, General Petraeus asks the boys to show respect and take off their wrap arounds to talk to the elders, and so be it.  But I don’t really care that deeply about that issue either.  The same thing applied to Iraq, and the Marines regularly did what they wanted to do in Anbar.

Michael says that the American way of doing things is to give money to those who are blowing you up.  Well, maybe so, at least right now, and in Afghanistan.  It wasn’t so in Iraq, and it certainly wasn’t so with the Marines in the Anbar Province.  Remember Recon by Fire?  And I won’t recount the experiences of a certain Marine I know.  And just to give a little Army take on their action in Iraq:

One thing that I think many people forget about Iraq (or maybe it wasn’t reported?) is that in 2007 and 2008 we were killing and capturing lots of people on a nightly basis. Protecting the populace was A priority. When speaking to the folks back home, in order to sell the war, perhaps we said that it was the priority. But on the ground, I do not recall a single Commander’s Update Brief spending any time at all discussing what we had done to protect anyone. We were focused on punching al-Qaeda in the nuts at every opportunity and dismantling their networks. The reconcilables got the message loud and clear that they could take money and jobs in return for cooperation, or they would die a swift death when we came knocking down their doors in the middle of the night. The rest of the populace made it clear to them that they should take the offer. The only protection that the population got from us was good fire discipline so that we did not kill non-combatants. We made it clear that the government intended to win this thing and we did not send that message by delivering governance or digging wells. We shot motherf******s in the face.  Pop-COIN blasphemers, your scripture is false teaching. Here is some truth:

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; – Ecclesiastes 3:1-3 (KJV)

It’s time to kill.

True enough, there is the tea drinking, the sit-downs, the meetings, and the making nice with the locals.  My son did a lot of that in Anbar as well.  He also killed a lot of people.  It’s important which aspect comes first.  It means everything to the campaign.

Take off your wrap-arounds, remove your body armor, or shoot insurgents in the face?

Just saying.



  • AJM

    Bravos Deadly Mission: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/4od#3128906

    Very good documentary about Operation Mushtaraq, Marjah, following one company. Features yet another incidence of a sniper, ‘possibly US trained’, hitting a helmet square on and the search for the offender. Not too much tea drinking, and this particular company caused zero civilian casualties. Theres a sad sting in the tail in the credits.

  • Krans

    I’d simply suggest that COIN is about as far from a binary choice as you can get. To say that we should be doing ‘X’ may in fact be very true… but there will be aspects ‘Y,’ ‘Z,’ and ‘A-K’ as well. Much as I like reading Yon’s stuff, I’d ask him if the best response would have been to NOT go to Zaranj at all, to NOT engage in any way whatsoever, and then explain why that was, absolutely without a doubt the best of all possible choices. Michael walks the walk, but I’m not sure about this particular talk. Be happy to talk to him about it when next he’s at LNK.

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This article is filed under the category(s) Afghanistan,Counterinsurgency and was published October 6th, 2010 by Herschel Smith.

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