Browsing: Marjah

Times were tense before the initial February assault on Marjah, Afghanistan. A narcotics hub and Taliban stronghold, it was expected to be booby-trapped with improvised explosive devices and filled with insurgents waiting for a fight. Obviously, the Corps took control of Marjah within days. It’s still a dangerous place, but one where Marine officials say they see hope, at least. Before the assault, Gunnery Sgt. Brian Walgren, the company gunny for Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, fired up his troops with a gritty, heartfelt speech. In many ways, it shows the best of the Corps. Occasionally profane but filled…

Here’s the lesson of the day: If you want to end up featured on Bored Marine Video, location is key. Sure, a good video can be recorded anywhere. Marines get extra points, though, when they record it somewhere austere — say, Marjah, the former Taliban stronghold where Marines still regularly tangle with insurgents. With that, we give you a rubber-legged infantry grunt performing Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.” I bet that’s the first time the song has ever been performed in a dirty FROG suit. Any help that can be provided in identifying this dancing star gets extra points. The likelihood is…

Last month, Maj. Gen. Richard Mills, commander of Marine forces in Afghanistan, presented a surprisingly rosy description of the battlefield to reporters at the Pentagon in a teleconference from his office at Camp Leatherneck. Improvements were ongoing, he said. Progress was being made. The insurgency had a “financial crisis” on its hands, and the Corps had verified reports of “Taliban thugs” being beaten by civilians and chased away from villages, he said. Mills took a small handful of questions from reporters during the press conference. Reporters — particularly those who had embedded with Marine units this year — walked away…

On Wednesday, the name of the U.S. military’s mission in Iraq will change, with the venerable “Operation Iraqi Freedom” moniker turned in for a new one, “Operation New Dawn.” The transition was announced in February, and takes effect as U.S. officials seek to highlight the improvements in Iraq. President Barack Obama is expected to address the nation tonight at 8 p.m., and will no doubt reference the new name as he seeks to reassure Americans that the U.S. has turned a page in the war in Iraq. As Operation New Dawn comes to the forefront, however, there’s a catch: Another Operation New Dawn…

Marines with 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, returned late last week to Camp Lejeune, N.C., after their difficult seven-month deployment to the former Taliban stronghold of Marjah. I’ve kept in touch with quite a few of the battalion’s Marines since my embedded assignment with them ended in May, and thought it’d be fun to share this photograph of a sweatband that one of them wore regularly downrange. Marine humor at its finest, I’d say.

Fellow blogger ninja Phil Ewing has an interesting post on Scoop Deck today that pokes fun at some well-worn phrases that are as common in the Marine Corps as brass on a range. As Phil points out, a Scoop Deck commenter and sailor expressed displeasure that the Corps’ throaty “oorah” is apparently making inroads into the Navy — although the sailor wrote it “Hoorah,” so maybe he was talking about some sort of Army motivation. In any event, the sailor also mentioned that he’s sick of hearing ” You tracking?” from individuals who want to know whether not the person they’re speaking with understands…

In a move made with little fanfare, the Afghanistan government unceremoniously replaced the district leader  in the former Taliban stronghold of Marjah this week. Haji Zahir, in the post for only a few months, was replaced by another Kabul official, Maj. Gen. Richard Mills, commander of Marine forces in Afghanistan, told NPR during an interview Monday. I can report to you, as a matter of fact, that Haji lost the job yesterday. He was replaced by a new governor who has come down with some experience from Kabul to take over. They swapped yesterday, they swapped positions. They did so…

 After months of fighting, the two infantry battalions saddled with the majority of responsibility in the former Taliban stronghold of Marjah, Afghanistan, may soon get a break. As we covered in a long-form story laying out the Marine Corps’ summer plan in Afghanistan, regularly scheduled unit rotations dictate that 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, and 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, both out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., will be replaced in Marjah this summer. Marines on the ground in Marjah say they’re working under the assumption that Lejeune’s 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines, will replace 1/6 in central and southern Marjah, while Lejeune’s 2nd Battalion, 9th…

As moments in Afghanistan went, they were some of the eeriest ones I experienced. On May 10 and 11, I went out on back-to-back evening patrols with members of India Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines from Combat Outpost Yazzie in northwest Marjah. The material gathered those nights formed a large part of the basis for this magazine story in Marine Corps Times, showing the dangers Marine faces in the former Taliban stronghold, where ambushes with sniper rifles and 7.62mm machine guns are common. With the sun setting on the horizon, the Marines climbed to a ridge overlooking Marjah from the west…

SPRINGFIELD, Va. — The journey is over. After six weeks in Afghanistan, three of which came in some of the most violent sections of Marjah, I’m back in the office at Military Times headquarters. The main focus today for me is pitching in on an in-depth print story about Gen. James Amos likely becoming the next commandant of the Marine Corps, while combing through notes and anecdotes collected in Afghanistan that I haven’t yet reported. Wearing a shirt and tie for the first time in nearly two months, I’m still struggling to put my trip in perspective, but I’m grateful…

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