The policy and the reality of the battle for Marja




There’s a major offensive underway in Afghanistan.

U.S. forces, working with Afghan troops, are trying to secure Marja, which has been Taliban stronghold. Today’s Washington Post has two front-page articles about the battle. The first looks at the policy and the strategy, as this is a key test of Obama’s escalation strategy:

In an acknowledgment of past mistakes, administration officials have emphasized that for the first time, U.S. and NATO forces are outnumbered by thousands of Afghan soldiers fighting alongside them. Unlike previous offensives, in which territory won from insurgents was later abandoned, the troops plan to clear the Taliban stronghold of Marja and hold it for as long as it takes to install a functioning local security system and government.

Large numbers of Afghan and international civilians have been marshaled to move into the district once the fighting is over, and development projects are funded and ready for implementation.

Bush and Cheney never ever managed the war in Afghanistan. That we’re just now launching what the Post says is “the largest military offensive of the eight-year war” is just stunning. Dick Cheney should be ashamed to show his face on the t.v. shows because of this debacle. But, then again, no one, including the traditional media, ever held the Bush team accountable for Afghanistan.

The policy discussion is important. But, the other article provides an intense first-hand account of company of Marines on their way to Marja. The Taliban are putting up fierce resistance along the way. But, these Marines are on a mission and this is the reality:

The operation to secure the area, which began with an airlift of hundreds of Marines and Afghan soldiers on Saturday and continued with the incursion of additional forces on Sunday, is proceeding more slowly than some U.S. military officials had anticipated because of stiff Taliban resistance and a profusion of roadside bombs.

In perhaps the most audacious Taliban attack since the operation commenced, a group of insurgents firing rocket-propelled grenades attempted to storm a temporary base used by Bravo Company of the 1st Battalion of the 6th Marine Regiment on Sunday evening. The grenade launch was followed by three men attempting to rush into the compound. The Marines presumed the men to be suicide bombers and threw grenades at them, killing all three.

The attack on the Bravo patrol base was one of several attempts to overrun Marine positions Sunday. All were repelled.

“The enemy is trying last-ditch efforts,” said the battalion commander, Lt. Col. Cal Worth.

The intensity of Taliban opposition is forcing the Marines to move cautiously, which sometimes means spending hours to advance only a few hundred yards, as Charlie Company’s 3rd Platoon discovered Sunday.

The Marines are not only fighting the Taliban and avoiding IEDs, they’re conducting diplomacy along the way.


On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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