Friday, July 03, 2009

Marines in "Hell of a Fight" in Afghanistan

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4,000 Marines are taking it to the Taliban in Helmand Province and are expected to have a tough go. Obama--and by extension the media--haven't talked at all about the war against the Taliban and the fight to wrest control of areas causing problems because they have more important issues to cover like Michael Jackson and faux town hall meetings.

Anyway, our warriors are taking it to the radical Islamic groups in what could be a critical battle. Here's the gist from AFP:

GARMSIR, Afghanistan (AFP) — US Marines are in a "hell of a fight" as they storm into Taliban strongholds in a major assault in Afghanistan, their commanding officer said on Friday.

Nearly 4,000 Marines launched the operation Thursday in parts of the southern province of Helmand, suffering their first fatality in a pivotal test of President Barack Obama's aggressive new strategy against the Taliban.

The 1/5 Infantry Battalion met only light resistance in their push south and had already been able to meet locals at shuras (councils), Brigadier General Larry Nicholson said, speaking to a convoy with which AFP was travelling.

But "for 2/8 there is a hell of a fight going on in the southern quarter of the sector," the top Marine said on arrival at Garmsir, a town along the Helmand River that was a key objective for the offensive.

"2/8 are going to face some challenges," he said. The Marines were in an area called Toshtay about 25 kilometres (16 miles) south of Garmsir.
This is a crucial area as the Taliban (and Iran?) are running weapons through the Pakistan border into the province. It's proximity to Quetta makes it a hard slog but it should be a target rich environment. Progress seems to be good:

Nicholson later told AFP separately: "Garmsir is three-quarters quiet but there is fighting in Toshtay. We intend to clear that up today. This doesn't mean it is over. The enemy may be reassessing the situation."

On the launch of Operation Khanjar before dawn on Thursday, Nicholson told his group that 4,000 Marines had been inserted in nearly eight hours, about half of them by helicopter.

Helmand Governor Gulab Mangal was "giggling with excitement" at the progress, Nicholson said. "I know the governor and I have never seen him like this."
No word on the name or rank of the Marine who was KIA. My prayers go out to his family and for him I can only say thanks for giving everything in the pursuit of freedom for the oppressed. No word on the soldier captured yesterday either.

Google map of the area here. AFP map of the operation below:

Update: The word is they are not meeting as much resistance as they thought they would. Good news.

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