Marines Hit Afghanistan in Operation: Hearts, Minds, and Suicide Attacks

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.

Previously, in Reason Online: Steve Chapman tries to figure a way out of Afghanistan, and David Weigel assesses Obama's liberal interventionism

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  • ||

    So what are the Obamatrons saying about it? Let me guess: Afghanistan is at least a "legitimate" war?

  • Kyle Jordan||

    "So what are the Obamatrons saying about it? Let me guess: Afghanistan is at least a "legitimate" war?"

    Pffft! I don't even think we'll get that from them. He's not Bush so they don't care.

  • Ben Kenobi||

    Obama is just cleaning up Bush's mess?

  • Tim Cavanaugh||

    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.

    What a deployment. If you don't get blown up by your overt enemies you can still hope to be stabbed in the spine by your new village friends who don't drink and whose language you'll never understand. All possible luck and the too-meager thanks of a nation to the kids who have to carry out this mission.

  • Paul||

    Obama is being presidential. He's being PRESIDENTIAL GODDAMNIT!

    What, no mention on Kos? Stunned. However, KOS does have a section on Sarah Palin and a video too!

  • Syd||

    Obama was the peace candidate on Iraq, not Afghanistan.

  • ||

    This policy sounds identical to the CAP (Combined Action Platoons)system the Marines implemented in the I Corps area of South Vietnam in the mid-1960's. A squad of Marines plus a Navy corpsman would be assigned to a village to live and work with the local villagers and the Vietnamese Popular Forces militia units. This policy was actually very successful - at least it made us a lot more friends than the Army's search-and-destroy mentality did. Unfortunately, General Lew Walt was never able to get Westmoreland's complete buy-in for the plan, and by the late 60's it had been abandoned.

    Hope the Marines can make it stick this time . . .

  • eNews Reference||

    It's time to take the gloves off... http://www.enewsreference.com

  • Tim Cavanaugh||

    Interesting stuff, Mabman. Good to know this has a promising precedent (albeit in different country, battle space, etc).

  • Brett Stevens||

    Isn't all interventionalism liberal?

    "We know better, because we bring you the liberal values of peace, democracy, freedom and justice! We are progress, and we have come to overthrow your kings and bring you are new enlightened order."

    I hope the Crusaders figure out they're being sent to die for a secular version of Christianity's "everyone is equal" dogma.

  • EoT||

    So what are the Obamatrons saying about it? Let me guess: Afghanistan is at least a "legitimate" war?

    I imagine its hard to say anything when Obama's dick is so far down your throat.

  • ||

  • ||

    damn....and his poll numbers were dropping like a stone too.

  • Colin||

    There are reports that a US soldier was captured by the Taliban. Of course, he or she will be treated humanely, in the same way we treat the Taliban in our custody.

    Oh, wait a minute -- never mind.

  • ||

    Remember, President Obama didn't start the war in Afghanistan therefore this current war should have been called "Operation Clean Up".

  • Cabeza de Vaca||

    This is why you should never join the military. The politicians who have control over you. Don't care if you live or die.

  • Fluffy||

    This can succeed, if the counterinsurgency guys remember the number one lesson from the Iraq surge:

    Bribery.

    Bribery, bribery, and more bribery.

    If we're going to have the Marines "walking around", they need to have "walking around money". Lots and lots of it.

  • Xeones||

    Fools! This is different and better than when Bush did similar stuff, somehow.

    If we're going to have the Marines "walking around", they need to have "walking around money".

    Perhaps that's the subtext. Nice to think that my tax dollars may end up buying some poppy farmer a new Kalashnikov, and i don't even get any of that horse.

  • Xeones||

    Not that i'm into opiates, but this administration might make it necessary.

  • Rich||

    > If we're going to have the Marines "walking around", they need to have "walking around money". Lots and lots of it.

    No problemo.

  • buck||

    I think someone is finding out that being the president of the United States of America isn't easy. I don't know why BO (yes, there is a foul odor about him) just doesn't make another decree and spend another trillion or two and tell everyone to be nice. Maybe this is practice for the military so they are prepared to move into our communities so we can give up our constitutional rights and so killing of babies can happen every day without American citizens protesting. It's just a thought but he does have at lease three more years to develop and implement his dogmatic regime.

  • buck||

    I think someone is finding out that being the president of the United States of America isn't easy. I don't know why BO (yes, there is a foul odor about him) just doesn't make another decree and spend another trillion or two and tell everyone to be nice. Maybe this is practice for the military so they are prepared to move into our communities so we can give up our constitutional rights and so killing of babies can happen every day without American citizens protesting. It's just a thought but he does have at lease three more years to develop and implement his dogmatic regime.

  • ||

    There are reports that a US soldier was captured by the Taliban. Of course, he or she will be treated humanely, in the same way we treat the Taliban in our custody.

    Oh, wait a minute -- never mind.


    Colin, you are a fool if you think our treatment of the Taliban would make any difference to how they treat our prisoners. This is the same crew that beheads civilians, stones them to death, buries them alive, etc. ad nauseum. They are barbarians, and will treat their prisoners accordingly regardless of how we treat our prisoners.

  • ||

    There are reports that a US soldier was captured by the Taliban. Of course, he or she will be treated humanely, in the same way we treat the Taliban in our custody.

    Yeah because a waterboarding is worse than anything the Taliban can think of. I'm sure they will give him/her three square meals a day and accomodate the soldier's religious persuasion too.

  • Ska||

    While it sounds better than going in and destroying their farms and livelihood, and maybe killing a few random people, I'd hate to think what happens when your outpost is home to one or two dozen motivated Taliban sympethizers.

  • creech||

    Nearly six months in and Obamessiah hasn't captured Osama Bin Laden? Piece of cake, no?

  • Russ 2000||

    What a deployment. If you don't get blown up by your overt enemies you can still hope to be stabbed in the spine by your new village friends who don't drink and whose language you'll never understand. All possible luck and the too-meager thanks of a nation to the kids who have to carry out this mission.

    As I was laughing out loud at the original paragraph, I was thinking along Tim's lines.

    The few deranged people who live in my neighborhood are ex-marines. They're crazy and a little scary, people try not to associate with them. I would think that out of all the armed forces, the marines are the last ones I'd pick for a "go live amongst the villagers and be neighbors and friends" deployment; they're trained to KILL fer crissakes.

    I hope I'm not offending marines too much here, they have a tough job and the job ruins them. But this assignment is impossible. This is one time I'm praying that the General and the press are lying and the marines are actually going to do what marines are supposed to do.

  • chris R||

    I cannot believe all of the ignorant political grandstanding.

    What bunch of blind clueless people.

  • ||

    Russ 2000 demonstrates his ignorance of Marines:

    The few deranged people who live in my neighborhood are ex-marines.

    Any one formerly on active duty in the USMC will tell you there is no such thing as an "ex"-Marine.

    Having known a number of Marines, I can only say that Russ 2000s observation tells me a lot more about him than it does about Marines.

    I would think that out of all the armed forces, the marines are the last ones I'd pick for a "go live amongst the villagers and be neighbors and friends" deployment; they're trained to KILL fer crissakes.

    They'd be the first I'd choose. The unoffical Corps motto is "No better friend, no worse enemy." Broken into penny packets like this, you need self-reliant, survivable groups that are credible security/fighting units, IOW, Marines.

  • Kilroy||

    Looks like we're taking a page out of al-Qa'ida's book: Call it "Operation Native Shield"

    Distributing forces among a civilian population will maximize collateral damage when the enemy attacks.

    Locals tend to get really pissed when we accidentally kill civilians who stand next to badguys when a missile is on the way. Maybe it'll work in reverse.

  • ||

    I'm an Iraq vet, and we mounted similar, ongoing missions over there. Kilroy was absolutely correct in his assumption that collateral damage spikes. So do our casualties. It doesn't take much to envision the myriad of difficulties soldiers face in our theatres of operation. They're different people. I'm no foriegn policy expert, but these are pretty impossible situations in Iraq and Afghanistan. It would be nice to see some ideas on how to extricate ourselves from this mess instead of the 'blame game' we can all agree detracts from truly substantive and pragmatic political debate.

  • ||

    Oh, come on, you can't say that in good conscience. "Gets his very own Central Asian war"? Just because he is taking responsibility for its outcome doesn't make it his war. It existed before him. It was a failure before him. The same people who decry that he is pulling out of Iraq prematurely are trying to hoist Afghanistan upon him in its fullest. It's nonsense. I lose my once-held respect for this periodical every time I read something so clearly biased and unconsidered like this.

  • Kilroy||

    Swerving, I served in Baghdad from '05-'06 (not in the military, but side-by-side and sometimes out in front) and you're 100% right that these are near-impossible situations. Personnaly I think the concept behind this current operation is a good one. What people need to (but won't) understand is that there is almost never a magical solution that solves all problems, achieves all desired results, and doesn't cost a thing. In this case a lot of civilians and U.S. personnel will be hurt in the short term, but it's probably the best way to solve the problem in the long run.

    I know my earlier comment was a bit snarky, but I get a perverse gratification from calling out the realistic costs of doing something the right way. Too many people try to ignore costs and consequences so sometimes they need it rubbed in their face so they'll accept reality and make rational decisions next time.

  • han||

    I know my earlier comment

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