Thursday, July 2, 2009

U.S. Marines launch major Afghan assault

This action will be a make or break for allied efforts to destroy the Taliban in Afghanistan. Basically, the US has extended it's military to the limit, so any faltering or getting bogged down will cause Obama to cut and run. If this fails or gets bogged down, perhaps it's time to get our troops out of every Muslim hell hole we're trying to help and contain and destroy Islam like the cancer it is.


U.S. Marines launch major Afghan assault
Thu Jul 2, 2009 4:10am EDT

By Peter Graff
GARMSIR, Afghanistan (Reuters) - Thousands of U.S. Marines stormed deep into Taliban territory in an Afghan river valley on Thursday, launching the biggest military offensive of Barack Obama's presidency.
The Marines say Operation Khanjar, or Strike of the Sword, will be decisive and is intended to seize virtually the entire lower Helmand River valley, the heartland of the Taliban insurgency and the world's biggest opium poppy producing region.
In swiftly seizing the valley, commanders hope to accomplish within hours what overstretched NATO troops had failed to achieve over several years, and by doing so turn the tide of a stalemated war in time for an Afghan presidential election in August.

"The intent is to go big, go strong and go fast, and by doing so we are going to save lives on both sides," Brigadier-General Larry Nicholson, commander of the Marines in southern Afghanistan, told his staff before the operation.
With violence in the Taliban-led insurgency at its highest since the austere Islamist group's ouster in 2001, the operation marks the first big test of Washington's new strategy to defeat the Taliban and its allies and stabilize Afghanistan.

With new tactics to win over the Afghan population and new commanders in place, the U.S. military is hoping to turn the tide of a war some in Washington have admitted they are not winning.
By 9.30 a.m. (0500 GMT), about eight hours after it began, there were no reports of casualties and only minor engagements involving insurgents shooting at Marines and then falling back, Marines spokesman Captain Bill Pelletier said.
There are thousands of Taliban fighters in their traditional strongholds in Helmand and neighboring Kandahar, from which the insurgency has spread in recent months. While there were few initial skirmishes, the Taliban has vowed to fight back.
"Thousands of Taliban mujahideen are ready to fight against U.S. troops in the operation in Helmand province," Mullah Hayat Khan, a senior Afghan Taliban commander, told Reuters in Pakistan by telephone from an undisclosed location.
Afghanistan's Defense Ministry said the operation was meant to regain control of districts held by the Taliban and make it safe for Afghanis to vote in the elections.

Wave upon wave of helicopters landed Marines in the early morning darkness throughout the valley, a crescent of opium poppy and wheat fields criss-crossed by canals and dotted with mud-brick homes. Entrenched fighters defied NATO forces there for years.
A Reuters reporting team drove in an armored convoy with third platoon of Fox Company, 2nd Batallion, 8th Marines. The Marines dismounted before dawn and fanned out into the fields alongside the river as the sun rose.