Thursday, July 2, 2009

March or Die, baby!

In the pre-dawn twilight of 2 July, the Marines and sailors of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion 5th Marines conducted the opening combat helo assault into the lower Helmand river valley of Afghanistan. Led by Capt. Brian P. Huysman, this intrepid unit was the first khanjar in MEB-AFG massive escalation of combat operations in “restive” Helmand Province:

Thousands of U.S. Marines stormed deep into Taliban territory in an Afghan valley on Thursday, marking the start of a major new effort by the Obama administration to regain the initiative in the war.

The Marines met little resistance on day one of Operation Khanjar, or Strike of the Sword, to seize almost all the lower Helmand River valley, heartland of the Taliban insurgency and the world's biggest opium poppy producing region.

One U.S. Marine was killed and several others were wounded during the day, the Marines said in a statement, adding that they had not received any confirmed reports of civilian casualties or damage to property.

Brian and I were both lieutenants together with 1/5 during the early years of the Iraq conflict, when the media was quick to label Anbar as the "restive" province of the moment. Some things never change. Back then, Brian was affectionately known by his peers as Meat, or by his Native American name Webtau Yicau, which is Sioux for "Soaring Eyebrow"

I heard Larry Nicholson is leading the MEB - he was our CO for some time at 5th Marines, and a fine and tested combat leader. I think were in good hands, if we can just get MORE THAN TWO PEOPLE FROM THE STATE DEPARTMENT TO JOIN IN:

"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."

Enjoy your holiday, diplomats. If the Marines could come deliver your mai-tais on silver platters, I am sure they would.

More atReuters; updates to follow.

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