“…the engagements are very intense.”
July has been a record high month in terms of casualties in the War in Afghanistan. This illustrates how tough a fight our military men and women are slugging out in the harsh unforgiving environment in Afghanistan. It is especially heated in the Province of Helmand, where over 4,000 brave Marines took the fight to the Taliban last month by launching Operation Khanjar.
News of the high number of casualties traveled far and wide, fueled by countless news stories talking about “eroding support for the war on terror” both here and in allied countries like the UK and Australia. VP Joe Biden today, on tour in Eastern Europe, told audiences to expect more stories about troops who make the ultimate sacrifice.
It’s more doom and gloom from the press and from politicians trying to hedge their popularity numbers. But while as we honor and remember our fallen troops, and pray for their families, we should also recognize the progress our troops are making.
Our military has successfully completed all their objectives, taken every town and village they have set their sights on, and punched through every Taliban defensive position they have set themselves upon.
To get an idea of just what the are doing and what they are up against, you have to search through the prattle of the daily news networks endless stories about Obama’s speeches and Hillary Clinton’s travels abroad. FOX News has a great series called “War Stories” where they honor our troops by writing about their enterprises through war correspondents like Oliver North who travels with our brave troops to front lines.
Today they wrote about the 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines and the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines in Helmand.
In Now Zad, located in northern Helmand Province, the Taliban threatened to kill the local population if they didn't abandon the town and proceeded to rig it with improvised explosive devices, or IEDs. In response, a company of Marines fought to reclaim the area from the enemy. "You name it, we did it," remembered Sgt. Ben Lanford, a squad leader in 2/7. "Small arms fighting, RPGs… IED threats… the engagements are very intense."
Oliver North posing with Troops in Afghanistan
To the south of 2/7 in the Garmsir District was 1st Battalion 6th Marines, also engaged in blistering fights with Taliban resistance, who deployed IEDs and snipers in an effort to maintain their foothold.
"We came down into Garmsir, and got into a real fight, and it lasted there for almost a month of daily, almost conventional forces," said 1st Lt. Clint Harris, at the time a platoon commander with 1/6. "Then the enemy… started to switch back towards a true insurgency campaign like we were seeing in Iraq."
US troops upping the intel in Afghanistan
Continuing the parallels to Iraq, just before security was beginning to improve, the military in Afghanistan is bulking up on intelligence to help find where the Taliban are hiding, who is providing them material support, and figuring out how to root them out.
In 2007 we traveled to Baghdad to talk and go on patrol with U.S. Army intelligence officers in the 1/4 Cavalry Division. As we learned on that trip, in a counter-insurgency strategy, the people (not mountains or rivers) are the terrain on which the battle takes place and the victors of the war are decided.
Taking lessons from the successes they have made in Iraq, U.S. troops are beginning to deploy more and more intelligence gathering strategies, talking to the local population, learning HOW the Taliban uses threats and violence to exploit the people.
We are happy to see that our troops are going to be using the same kinds of strategies that made war in Iraq a success when the politicians here at home said “it can’t be done”
We know that no matter how long it take, our troops will continue to fight and continue to gather intelligence to help break down the networks of Taliban and Al Qauda until they are eliminated or forced underground forever!
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