Sunday, April 30, 2017

Deja Vu All Over Again

When thousands of US Marines flooded into Helmand eight years ago, they demonstrated Barack Obama’s resolve to quash the Taliban once and for all and leave a peaceful province for Afghans to take over.

And that worked out just as planned, eh?

We're baaaaaaaaaack.
The situation now is worse than when they left. Areas where the US military had outposts and walked the bazaars are now inaccessible even for Afghan forces. Of the province’s 14 districts, only two are firmly under government control.


Sangin, the deadliest district in the country for both US Marines and British troops, fell to the Taliban again in March, though US forces downplayed the moment.


The Taliban are now encroaching on the provincial capital, Lashkar Gah, and have periodically managed to block the main highway to Kandahar.


About half of the 300 Marines who have arrived over the past two weeks have served in Helmand before. Even the flag raised in a ceremony on Saturday was the same, having been kept at the Pentagon since October 2014.
Are we sure that's the best omen-symbol to take?
Brig Gen Roger B Turner, who leads the mission, has said he will not limit his troops to non-combat roles, but they will primarily train and advise Afghan forces.


On Thursday, two US soldiers were killed and a third wounded by suspected friendly fire during an operation against Isis in Nangarhar where the US dropped its largest non-nuclear weapon, the Moab, on 13 April.

Helmand has been a hellish place, made worse by sweltering summer heat and dust storms. The Taliban are stronger in Helmand than anywhere else. About 350 US Marines have been killed in the province.


Staff Sergeant George Caldwell, who previously spent eight months in the far south of Helmand that mixed combat operations with training the Afghan border police, said: “I was excited to come back. I have a lot of time invested in Helmand province. We have many, many years of combat operations and we’d hate to see the region become unstable.”
Something about a barn door and a horse. But it's nice to have a positive attitude.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

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