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Marines begin Afghanistan ops

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May God hold them in the palm of His hand and protect them from evil.

 

2nd MEB Marines begin Afghanistan ops

 

 

7,000 Marines represent first wave of troops ordered Afghanistan by Obama

By Chris Brummitt - The Associated Press

Posted : Monday Jun 8, 2009 11:33:14 EDT

 

CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan - Some 7,000 of the new U.S. troops ordered to Afghanistan are fanning out across the dangerous Afghan south on a mission to defeat the Taliban insurgency and to change the course of a war claiming American lives at a record pace.

 

The Marines represent the first wave of 21,000 troops ordered to Afghanistan this summer by President Barack Obama. Most of the buildup will take place in Helmand and Kandahar. The two southern provinces lie at the heart of the insurgency and are close to the border with Pakistan, where the Taliban's top leadership is believed to be based.

 

Some 7,000 Marines from the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, are now in the country, Marine spokesman 1st Lt. Abe Sipe said.

 

The Marines have brought fighter aircraft, transport helicopters, artillery and the infrastructure needed to support what will ultimately be a force of around 11,000.

Helmand province - the world's largest opium poppy-growing region - is also Afghanistan's most violent.

"This is where the fight is, in Afghanistan," said 1st Sgt. Christopher Watson, who like many here has also served in Iraq. "We are here to get the job done."

 

Taliban militants and the drug lords they protect are believed to reap hundreds of millions of dollars from Afghanistan's drug trade. U.S. and NATO troops have stepped up attacks this year on drug labs after concluding the drug trade and the insurgency are intertwined.

 

Most of the newly arrived Marines are now stationed at Camp Leatherneck, a small base in Helmand expanding by the hour as workers build permanent structures. Some Marines have moved out to smaller outposts and are patrolling Helmand's deserts under a harsh summer sun.

Commanders warn that U.S. deaths are likely to increase this summer, the traditional fighting season in Afghanistan.

 

At least 70 American troops have been killed in Afghanistan this year, according to an Associated Press count, a 75 percent increase over the 40 U.S. troop deaths through the first week in June last year. A record 151 American forces died in Afghanistan in 2008.

 

The Afghan government controls some of the major towns and roads in Helmand, but most of the province of around 1 million is under the sway of the Taliban. Thousands of British forces have been deployed in Helmand since mid-2006, too few to provide security and counterinsurgency operations for the entire province.

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I wish our boys well, but they undertake operations against people who have been fighting 'invaders' for millenias.

 

We have vastly superior firepower, some of it quite sophisticated & highly useful for use against bunkers & caves. But I once again reiterate an opinion that all our 'victories' will be fleeting. The Pathans and their brethren, are like the tide; they ebb and flow with a consistency you can make book on.

 

I fear we are merely sowing the seeds for future terroristic acts. The local indigenous personnel have long memories, and fiery tempers. frown.gif

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The current Administration is more inclined then the last one to see military success as both necessary and insufficient. Locals grow opium because it's the best cash crop available. We had better go in prepared to make major investments in a new regional economy, because if we don't, we'll merely make more recruits for the Taliban. So, I hope the new team has a plan to do so ... and that it works.

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