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Marines Deploy on Major Mission

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Filed: AOS (apr) Country: Philippines
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CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan, July 2 -- Thousands of U.S. Marines descended upon the volatile Helmand River valley in helicopters and armored convoys early Thursday, mounting an operation that represents the first large-scale test of the U.S. military's new counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan.

The operation will involve about 4,000 troops from the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, which was dispatched to Afghanistan this year by President Obama to combat a growing Taliban insurgency in Helmand and other southern provinces. The Marines, along with an Army brigade that is scheduled to arrive later this summer, plan to push into pockets of the country where NATO forces have not had a presence. In many of those areas, the Taliban has evicted local police and government officials and taken power.

Once Marine units arrive in their designated towns and villages, they have been instructed to build and live in small outposts among the local population. The brigade's commander, Brig. Gen. Lawrence D. Nicholson, said his Marines will focus their efforts on protecting civilians from the Taliban and on restoring Afghan government services, instead of mounting a series of hunt-and-kill missions against the insurgents.

Similar approaches have been tried in the eastern part of the country, but none has had the scope of the mission in Helmand, a vast province that is largely an arid moonscape save for a band of fertile land that lines the Helmand River. Poppies grown in that territory produce half the world's supply of opium and provide the Taliban with a valuable source of income.

Officers here said the mission, which required months of planning, is the Marines' largest operation since the 2004 invasion of Fallujah, Iraq. In the minutes after midnight, well-armed Marines trudged across the tarmac at this sprawling outpost to board the Chinooks, which lumbered aloft with a burst of searing dust. A few hours later, another contingent of Marines boarded a row of CH-53 Super Stallion helicopters packed onto a relatively small landing pad at a staging base in the desert south of here. As the choppers clattered through the night sky, dozens of armored vehicles rolled toward towns along the river valley.

The U.S. strategy here is predicated on the belief that a majority of people in Helmand do not favor the Taliban, which enforces a strict brand of Islam that includes an-eye-for-an-eye justice and strict limits on personal behavior. Instead, U.S. officials believe, residents would rather have the Afghan government in control, but they have been cowed into supporting the Taliban because there was nobody to protect them.

In areas south of the provincial capital, local leaders, and even members of the police force, have fled. An initial priority for the Marines will be to bring back Afghan government officials and reinvigorate the local police forces. Marine commanders also plan to help district governors hold shuras -- meetings of elders in the community -- in the next week.

"Our focus is not the Taliban," Nicholson told his officers. "Our focus must be on getting this government back up on its feet."

But Nicholson and his top commanders recognize that making that happen involves tackling numerous challenges, starting with a lack of trust among the local population. That mistrust stems from concern over civilian casualties resulting from U.S. military operations as well as from a fear that the troops will not stay long enough to counter the Taliban. The British army, which had been responsible for all of Helmand since 2005 under NATO's Afghan stabilization effort, lacked the resources to maintain a permanent presence in most parts of the province.

"A key to establishing security is getting the local population to understand that we're going to be staying here to help them -- that we're not driving in and driving out," said Col. Eric Mellenger, the brigade's operations officer.

The Marines have also been vexed by a lack of Afghan security forces and a near-total absence of additional U.S. civilian reconstruction personnel. Nicholson had hoped that his brigade, which has about 11,000 Marines and sailors, would be able to conduct operations with a similar number of Afghan soldiers. But thus far, the Marines have been allotted only about 500 Afghan soldiers, which he deems "a critical vulnerability."

Despite commitments from the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development that they would send additional personnel to help the new forces in southern Afghanistan with reconstruction and governance development, State has added only two officers in Helmand since the Marines arrived. State has promised to have a dozen more diplomats and reconstruction experts working with the Marines, but only by the end of the summer.

To compensate in the interim, the Marines are deploying what officers here say is the largest-ever military civilian-affairs contingent attached to a combat brigade -- about 50 Marines, mostly reservists, with experience in local government, business management and law enforcement. Instead of flooding the area of operations with cash, as some units did in Iraq, the Marine civil affairs commander, Lt. Col. Curtis Lee, said he intends to focus his resources on improving local government.

Once basic governance structures are restored, civilian reconstruction personnel plan to focus on economic development programs, including programs to help Afghans grow legal crops in the area. Senior Obama administration officials say creating jobs and improving the livelihoods of rural Afghans is the key to defeating the Taliban, which has been able to recruit fighters for as little as $5 a day in Helmand.

In meetings with his commanders at forward operating bases over the past three days, Nicholson acknowledged that focusing on governance and population security does not come as naturally to Marines as conducting offensive operations, but he told them it is essential that they focus on "reining in the pit bulls."

"We're not going to measure your success by the number of times your ammunition is resupplied. . . . Our success in this environment will be very much predicated on restraint," he told a group of officers from the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines on Sunday. "You're going to drink lots of tea. You're going to eat lots of goat. Get to know the people. That's the reason why we're here."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/conte...0103202_pf.html


David & Lalai

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Good. Best way to win a war is apply everything and finish it.


My Advice is usually based on "Worst Case Scenario" and what is written in the rules/laws/instructions. That is the way I roll... -Protect your Status - file before your I-94 expires.

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Filed: Lift. Cond. (apr) Country: Egypt
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The brigade's commander, Brig. Gen. Lawrence D. Nicholson, said his Marines will focus their efforts on protecting civilians from the Taliban and on restoring Afghan government services, instead of mounting a series of hunt-and-kill missions against the insurgents.

Don't just open your mouth and prove yourself a fool....put it in writing.

It gets harder the more you know. Because the more you find out, the uglier everything seems.

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Filed: AOS (apr) Country: Philippines
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What happened to all the armchair generals here? Here we finally have a major policy shift in Iraq and Afghanistan this week by Obama and gets little to no notice. Three sentences total?

Must be more people worried about the economy or Jackson's death.


David & Lalai

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aneska1-3-1-1.gif

Greencard Received Date: July 3, 2009

Lifting of Conditions : March 18, 2011

I-751 Application Sent: April 23, 2011

Biometrics: June 9, 2011

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Filed: AOS (apr) Country: Philippines
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Try using this shampoo.

I guess the wars under Obama are somehow funnier than under Bush.

Seems to parallel with the record high unemployment figures being a time for more people to enjoy their newly found freetime.


David & Lalai

th_ourweddingscrapbook-1.jpg

aneska1-3-1-1.gif

Greencard Received Date: July 3, 2009

Lifting of Conditions : March 18, 2011

I-751 Application Sent: April 23, 2011

Biometrics: June 9, 2011

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Filed: K-1 Visa Country: Philippines
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What happened to all the armchair generals here? Here we finally have a major policy shift in Iraq and Afghanistan this week by Obama and gets little to no notice. Three sentences total?

Must be more people worried about the economy or Jackson's death.

Ummmm Obama stated from the very beginning he would focus on Afghanistan, so the news isn't surprising. I wish the Marines luck in their mission... Semper Fi!


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Filed: Country: United Kingdom
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What happened to all the armchair generals here? Here we finally have a major policy shift in Iraq and Afghanistan this week by Obama and gets little to no notice. Three sentences total?

What is it?


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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Brazil
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The brigade's commander, Brig. Gen. Lawrence D. Nicholson, said his Marines will focus their efforts on protecting civilians from the Taliban and on restoring Afghan government services, instead of mounting a series of hunt-and-kill missions against the insurgents.

mission creep...........


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I carry a gun because a cop is too heavy.

 

USE THE REPORT BUTTON INSTEAD OF MESSAGING A MODERATOR!

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Filed: K-1 Visa Country: Philippines
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So um... poor economy = better military recruiting? The way to win the war on terror is to keep making our economy worse until all it takes to recruit new soldiers is offering them their choice of potato's or vodka for payment...

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Filed: Country: United Kingdom
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The brigade's commander, Brig. Gen. Lawrence D. Nicholson, said his Marines will focus their efforts on protecting civilians from the Taliban and on restoring Afghan government services, instead of mounting a series of hunt-and-kill missions against the insurgents.

mission creep...........

Yeah, they should hunt and kill the insurgents - sounds like so much fun! :dance:


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Filed: AOS (apr) Country: Colombia
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Try using this shampoo.

I guess the wars under Obama are somehow funnier than under Bush.

Seems to parallel with the record high unemployment figures being a time for more people to enjoy their newly found freetime.

Not really but if that's what you want to imply... its your right to do so.


Wishing you ten-fold that which you wish upon all others.

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Filed: K-1 Visa Country: Philippines
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The brigade's commander, Brig. Gen. Lawrence D. Nicholson, said his Marines will focus their efforts on protecting civilians from the Taliban and on restoring Afghan government services, instead of mounting a series of hunt-and-kill missions against the insurgents.

mission creep...........

Not really... Safety & Security of the civilians has always been a priority & Obama stated a long time ago he would focus on economic recovery, rebuilding infrastructure, etc. I was a Civil Affairs officer for 8 years (tours in Bosnia & Iraq) so I am familiar with these types of missions.


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