Archive for the 'Operation Khanjar' Category

Scenes from Operation Khanjar II

BY Herschel Smith
14 years, 2 months ago

U.S. Marine Cpl. Brian Knight, of Cincinnati, Ohio, with the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, 1st Battalion 5th Marines, pauses briefly in the heat to rest with his heavy pack filled with mortar equipment, ammunition, food, and water in the Nawa district in Afghanistan’s Helmand province Saturday, July 4, 2009.

This Marine is carrying his backpack filled with food, hydration system, clothing, etc., and is also carrying ammunition, weapon, body armor, and other equipment.  He is likely going “across the line” at 120 to 130 pounds.  He is suffering in heat and with heavy battle space weight.  For weight lifters like me, let’s put this in terms we can understand.  This is like putting three York 45 pound plates in a backpack and humping it for ten or fifteen miles in 100+ degree Fahrenheit weather.

Battle space weight is a recurring theme at The Captain’s Journal, and will remain so.  Money should be devoted to the weight reduction of SAPI plates in body armor and other low and even high hanging fruit.  The weight of water is decided by God and cannot be altered.

Another salient point bears down on us.  This is why women are not allowed in Marine infantry (or Army Special Forces), and why women suffered an inordinately high number of lower extremity injuries (leading to ineffective Russian units) when they deployed with the Russian Army in their losing campaign in Afghanistan.  Just like God decides the weight of water, He also decides the physiques of men and women.

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Marines Feel the Love from Huffington Post

BY Herschel Smith
14 years, 2 months ago

The Huffington Post links our Operation Khanjar category in their coverage of the most recent Marine Corps operations in the Helmand Province, as well they should.  We have extensively covered, analyzed and commented on the campaign in Afghanistan for several years now, including detailed coverage of Marine Corps operations in Garmser and Now Zad for about a year (and beginning with reports that couldn’t be found in the MSM).

One Twitter post is interesting: “It is cool that the new Afghan operation is named “Khanjar“, an Arabic word. Anyone else think this will drive the right-wing media crazy??”  Drive the right-wing media crazy as it did with Operation Al Fajr, or Operation Alljah?  Seriously?  Does anyone know any media analyst or reporter, right or left wing, who is driven crazy by the names of operations?

But continuing with our main point, the commenters extend the love to the U.S. Marines.

I’ve said before that our combat Marines are doing a job that 99.99% of us are either unwilling or incapable of doing ourselves. They’re doing a great job and I hope their mission is successful …

Get some, Marines!  I wish I could be there with you …

Hooah! …

Maybe, finally my friends and neighbors will rest in peace …

There are a few dubious comments too.  But another Huffington Post article early in 2008 (linking the LA Times) cited Marine Major General Gaskin saying that the gains in Anbar were permanent.  Essentially, mission accomplished.  No comments, except one asking if we were “Tired of the NeoCons getting away with their crimes?”

Some of this love would have been nice in 2004 – 2008 when more than 1000 Marines perished in the Anbar Province of Iraq.  Ah, but that wasn’t Obama’s war, was it?

As for Obama’s war, Jules Crittenden has linked and commented on a Washington Post article that is stunning in its revelation about how the Obama administration sees this and similar Afghanistan operations.

During the briefing, (Brig. Gen. Lawrence) Nicholson had told Jones that he was “a little light,” more than hinting that he could use more forces, probably thousands more. “We don’t have enough force to go everywhere,” Nicholson said.

But Jones recalled how Obama had initially decided to deploy additional forces this year. “At a table much like this,” Jones said, referring to the polished wood table in the White House Situation Room, “the president’s principals met and agreed to recommend 17,000 more troops for Afghanistan.” The principals — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton; Gates; Mullen; and the director of national intelligence, Dennis C. Blair — made this recommendation in February during the first full month of the Obama administration. The president approved the deployments, which included Nicholson’s Marines.

Soon after that, Jones said, the principals told the president, “oops,” we need an additional 4,000 to help train the Afghan army.

“They then said, ‘If you do all that, we think we can turn this around,’ ” Jones said, reminding the Marines here that the president had quickly approved and publicly announced the additional 4,000.

Now suppose you’re the president, Jones told them, and the requests come into the White House for yet more force. How do you think Obama might look at this? Jones asked, casting his eyes around the colonels. How do you think he might feel?

Jones let the question hang in the air-conditioned, fluorescent-lighted room. Nicholson and the colonels said nothing.

Well, Jones went on, after all those additional troops, 17,000 plus 4,000 more, if there were new requests for force now, the president would quite likely have “a Whiskey Tango Foxtrot moment.” Everyone in the room caught the phonetic reference to WTF — which in the military and elsewhere means “What the [expletive]?”

Nicholson and his colonels — all or nearly all veterans of Iraq — seemed to blanch at the unambiguous message that this might be all the troops they were going to get.

So much for the love from the Huffington Post to the Marines – they only love them sometimes.  And it appears that Obama doesn’t share the same love, at least in terms of supplying them with troops … even if they ask for more.

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Scenes from Operation Khanjar

BY Herschel Smith
14 years, 2 months ago

Prior to launch of the operation:

U.S. Marines from 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, RCT 2nd Battalion 8th Marines Echo Co. run to a new position as they take enemy fire during the start of Operation Khanjari on July 2, 2009 in Main Poshteh, Afghanistan.

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U.S. Marines Launch Large Scale Operation in Helmand Province

BY Herschel Smith
14 years, 2 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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