From battered streets of Baghdad to the bountiful sweeping fields of poppy in southern Afghansitan, the United States Marines continue fighting battles of their nation. Airstrikes and artillery barrages echoed th rough the morning air as Marines launched their first major military operation in Afghanistan since arriving from Iraq. The Marines have been taking sporadic fire from Taliban militants who, most probably, are feeling out their new opponents. “We’ve been receiving indirect fire in this area since we got here about three days ago,” said Captain Charles O’Neill. “It shows they have done it before and that they might have been trained.”
So far, no Marine has been killed although several have received wounds. They are fighting in 110 degree heat as they carry 75 to 120 pounds of gear in the ongoing effort to confront and somehow defeat Taliban forces in Afghanistan. Many Afghan families have fled the area and the local bazaar has been closed for months due to fighting in the area. Most probably, the Marines will soon encounter a stalemate as Taliban forces hide from open fighting and more often than not resort to roadside bombs, ambushes, and mortar attacks.
The question that remains unanswered is why, seven years after fighting began– or ended– are the Marines fighting in Afghanistan. Where are Afghan soldiers and why aren’t its leaders assuming responsibility for fighting in their own land? Until an Afghan army takes the field, until Afghan farmers are allowed to make a decent living, and until the United States focuses more on political than military efforts, there will be no respite for the Marines or any other fighting force.