Tag Archives: US Marines

US Massive Operation Proceeds In Afghanistan

The long awaited American military effort in Afghanistan to replicate the so-called success of the “surge” is now underway in the province of Helmand and areas which have not seen American or Afghanistan soldiers in years. Operation Khanjar(Strike of the Sword) has poured thousands of Marines into combat with the Taliban in an effort to flood the area with so many soldiers it will be impossible for the Taliban to exert their authority. As General Nicholson notes, “the intent is to go big, go strong, go fast, and by doing so we are going to save lives on both sides.” Initial reports indicate many members of the Taliban are retreating to higher ground.

Unfortunately, the belief that following the success of the “Iraq Surge” will produce similar results in Afghanistan. But, it is still unclear as to the meaning or permanence of the Iraq surge. The surge itself stemmed initially from support of Sunni Awakening Councils which threw their men and arms into the fight against al-Qaeda. No such group exists in Afghanistan and without the support of local groups, no number of soldiers in themselves will be able to consolidate retention of land. As of this point, there is no evidence a functioning efficient government exists in Afghanistan.

Yes, American soldiers can proceed fast, but it is not speed that counts, but the support of the local population.

Europe In Or Canada Out Of Afghanistan

Prime Minister Sephen Harper told President Bush his natin will end its militay mission in Afghanistan unless another NATO country agrees to dispatch more troops to assist in the fighting. Harper’s Conservative govewrnment is under pressure to withdraw Canada’s 2,500 man contingent from Kandahar province after the deaths of 78 of its soldiers. The mssion is set to expire by 2009 without an extension granted by the Canadian Parliament. The refusal of European nations to send more troops to the southern front lines has created a rift within NATO. Troops from Canada, Britain, the Netherlands and the U.S. have borne the brunt of action with some assistance from Denmark, Romania, estonian and the non-NATO Australia.

Harper spokesperson, Sandra Buckler said: “He underscored that, unless Canada was able to meet the conditions specificed by the panel of additional combat troops and equipment from NATO allies, Canada’s mission in Afghanistan will not be extended.” Bush promised to send an additional 3,200 Marines to Afghanistan but Harper wants Europe to fully participate in the struggle.

A major factor in the rise of European discontent with Afghanistan stems from lack of a coordinated long-range goal. The NATO, American and Afghan forces have used the same tactics for six years and the situation grows worse. Suggestions like paying Afghan farmers for their poppy crop to end their support for the Taliban are rejected by Bush or suggestions to bring the Taliban into the government are discounted. These may not be the best solutions but the United States and NATO must begin to think in new terms or the same old results will occur.

Marine Whistleblower Given Cold Shoulder

A marine who told about instructions given men in his unit by an officer to get their stories straight on a story regarding the killing of civilians has resulted in his fellow soldiers avoiding contact with him. Sgt. Henry Butts taped comments by Capt. Shane Cole to be careful in what the men said to investigators of the incident. Shane told men in his unit, “Earlier up on the roof, there were like five women and little girls. OK. We f—ed that area up. If we did any collateral damage, there will be people asking. Your answer, for the sake of yourselves– and me– better be you were f—ing shooting at muzzle flashes.”

Butts has picked up from other men they have been instructed not to talk with him. The sergeant admitted he had an ongoing conflict with Capt. Cole and held off on turning over the recording, but eventually gave it to his first sergeant who then made certain it got to the proper authorities. In an earlier investigation of the incident, Marine officials said they did not find any evidence of any civilian deaths during the engagement. However, Capt. Cole was relieved of his command and is facing charges. Butts claimed he held off on handing the tape over while he was in Iraq for fear it would be dangerous doing so while in a combat area.

The war in Iraq places extreme pressures on those fighting. An urban war invariably results in civilian deaths, but we Americans must be cognizant of our responsibilities to ensure avoidable deaths must result in punishment if those fighting had alternatives. A cover up and using expressions such as “collateral damage” is not in accordance with the American military tradition. It is not “collateral damage,” it is the death of women and children.

US Marines Cause Controversy With Army Generals

Recent reports in newspapers about the desire of the U.S. Marine Corps to pull its troops out of Iraq and take over the fighting in Afghanistan have provoked fury among Army generals. “This (the proposal) is not going down well with the Army,” said a general on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, adding the situation is going to “be more contentious and sensitive than many people outside of the inside team realize.” The Marines have floated the idea of its 25,000 mean force in Iraq being pulled out and going to Afghanistan where it would have complete responsibility for handling military operations. This would require Army troops being pulled out of Afghanistan and redeploying to Iraq. Marine units are designed to be self-sustaining for up to 30 days in case of a Marine expeditionary unit, and 60 days in case of a Marine expeditionary brigade. Longer deployments, “by law” require the Army to provide logistical support. If Marines redeployed to Afghanistan, the U.S. Army would have to provide support for Marine units that are not under the command of Army generals.

Some experts wonder if a Marine seven month rotation works in counter-insurgencye operations which necessitate building long term relations with local inhabitants. There is no doubt Army generals have taken umbrage at the implication Marines have been more effective in fighting Iraq insurgents. This “conflict” is merely one of many in American history in which competing units of our armed forces argue as to which is the more effective fighting group. One can only wonder where Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is as the controversy swirls around — was he aware of Marine desires before they became public knowledge?