It's the biggest Marine operation since Fallujah underway in Afghanistan as of today, as peace candidate Barack Obama gets his very own central Asian war to help define his legacy. Excerpts from the Washington Post report:
The operation will involve about 4,000 troops from the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade...The Marines, along with an Army brigade that is scheduled to arrive later this summer, plan to push into pockets of the country where NATO forces have not had a presence.....
Once Marine units arrive in their designated towns and villages, they have been instructed to build and live in small outposts among the local population. The brigade's commander, Brig. Gen. Lawrence D. Nicholson, said his Marines will focus their efforts on protecting civilians from the Taliban, and on restoring Afghan government services, instead of a series of hunt-and-kill missions against the insurgents.
"We're doing this very differently," Nicholson said to his senior officers a few hours before the mission began. "We're going to be with the people...."
....Additional forces were slated to pour into the valley during the predawn hours on more helicopters and in heavy transport vehicles designed to withstand the makeshift-but-lethal bombs that Taliban fighters have implanted along the roads.
It was not immediately clear whether the initial Marine units faced resistance as they converged on their destinations. Marine commanders said prior to the start of the operation that they expected only minimal Taliban opposition at the outset but that assaults on the forces likely would increase once they move into towns and begin patrols. Field commanders have been told to prepare for suicide attacks, ambushes and roadside bombings.