The Financial Times of July 3 2009, has a most interesting article about the added Marine forces of approximately 4000 men in Helmand province. This is the biggest operation by the Marines since the Fallujah offensive in Iraq. But the approach they are taking is quite different:
“As Marine units arrive in their designated towns and villsages, they have been instructed to build and live in small outposts among the population…The Marines focus their attention on protecting the civilains from the Taliban and on restoring Afghan government services, instead of mounting hunt and kill missions against the insurgents. ‘We are doing this differently’ Marine Command General Nicholson said to his his senior officers before the mission began. ‘We are going to be with the people. We are not going to drive to work, we are going to walk to work… Our focus is not the Taliban… our focus is must be on getting this government back up on its feet….we are not going to measure your success by the number of times yor ammunition is resupplied … our success will in this environment will be predicated very much on restraint. …You are going to drink lots of tea. You’re going to eat lots of goat. Get to know the people. That’s the reason why we are here”.
Initial reaction – this sounds like a better recipe for success then the past 7 years of effort.