February 20, 2010 |
Reporting from Nawa, Afghanistan — With the military offensive to drive Taliban fighters from their sanctuary in Marja continuing, the Marines are moving to prevent the Taliban from returning to other communities in Helmand Province. Lt. Col. Matt Baker, commander of the 1st battalion, 3rd Marine regiment, said that intelligence reports and the sudden change in the placement of roadside bombs suggest that the Taliban are trying to return to the places from which they fled last year when Marines descended on the sprawling province in southern Afghanistan.
February 25, 2010 |
In wind-whipped tents, makeshift shelters and overcrowded family compounds, Afghans who fled the battleground town of Marja are asking themselves and one another: When will it be safe to go home? Since the start this month of a massive assault by U.S. Marines and British and Afghan troops on the southern Afghan town, nearly 4,000 families have sought shelter in nearby Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province. By the calculation generally used by aid agencies -- six people per family, though many are far larger -- that would add up to at least 24,000 people, nearly one-third of the town's population.
April 11, 2010 |
The safety situation for Afghan villagers remains precarious in Marja, where U.S. Marines and Afghan soldiers mounted a massive assault in February to oust the Taliban from control, the Marine general who led the assault said late Sunday. Speaking by telephone to reporters in the U.S., Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson said that while there are hopeful signs in Marja -- schools reopening, Afghan police patrolling, farmers signing up to grow crops other than opium poppy -- it will be months before the Marja mission can be considered a success.
February 14, 2010 |
Hundreds of Afghan men walked for miles over dusty roads Saturday to hear the Marines explain those angry sounds of war coming from the Taliban stronghold of Marja. Nearly 400 elders, farmers and tradesmen attended the open-air meeting called by their tribal leaders. In the distance, artillery boomed and Hellfire missiles exploded as the Marine-led assault on Marja entered its first full day. For the U.S., the meeting was part of a strategy to move quickly from the fighting to the establishment of at least the beginnings of a government that answers to President Hamid Karzai, not the Taliban.
August 28, 2010 |
If Marine Lance Cpl. Kevin Oratowski was intimidated about briefing three visiting generals as he headed out on another overnight patrol chasing the Taliban, he didn't show it. "We're ready to go," the 23-year-old from Camp Pendleton said brightly, his enthusiasm seemingly undimmed by the fact that he had spent most of the last 60 days in the heat, danger and uncertainty of Helmand province. A few hours later, he was dead from a Taliban roadside bomb. As the three generals watched the next day, Oratowski's casket was loaded aboard a C-130 to begin its journey home.
December 16, 2010 |
The Obama administration's Afghanistan assessment, due out Thursday, reportedly indicates uneven but real progress. Fed a steady diet of gloom and doom, including Wednesday's headlines about negative intelligence assessments, many Americans will be surprised at this finding. But in any far-off guerrilla war, perception back home often lags battlefield reality by several months. It certainly did in Iraq during the "surge" in 2007. So too in Afghanistan, where the buildup of U.S. forces, completed only this fall, is already having a considerable impact, although public opinion hasn't caught on yet. Even with the recent increase in U.S. troops, bringing the NATO force to 140,000, there are not enough forces to conduct a comprehensive campaign across the entire country.