Browsing: Sangin

“The enemy is … on the run:” Afghan National Army declares victory amid fighting in Sangin

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Just last month, the Marine Corps executed a carefully planned pullout from Sangin district in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, a region best known as one of the most deadly battlegrounds of the war. I was on the ground with some of the units for the final withdrawal. Less than two months on, the news out of Sangin isn’t good: AP reports that some 27 people, including five civilians, have been killed since Sunday, when the Taliban launched an attack on police checkpoints in the district, swarming the region with between 800 and 1,0o0 enemy fighters. The fighting has also spread the…

Last U.S. Marine tank unit heading home from Afghanistan

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The Marine Corps made national headlines in fall 2010 when it sent tanks to northern Helmand province to bolster firepower there. It was a first for the U.S. in the war, which was nine years old at the time. Nearly three years later, the tanks are coming home. Delta Company, 2nd Tank Battalion, out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., will redeploy to the U.S. soon, and will not be replaced by a similar unit, said 1st Lt. Philip Kulczewski, a Marine spokesman in Afghanistan. It’s one of the most tangible indications recently that that the U.S. drawdown in forces in Afghanistan…

General: Taliban probing for weaknesses in Helmand security

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As noted here on Battle Rattle last week, the arrival of fighting season in Afghanistan this year has meant a series of attacks in Helmand province, especially in Sangin district. Fighting has been underway there for several days straight, with Taliban fighters attacking Afghan forces repeatedly. Maj. Gen. W. Lee Miller, the top commander in southwestern Afghanistan, briefed the media from his headquarters at Camp Leatherneck yesterday (A transcript of that conversation is available here). A couple key takeaways: Heavy fighting in Sangin is back For much of late 2010 and 2011, the war in Sangin dominated media coverage of…

Marines watch fighting as summer arrives in Afghanistan

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The start of the 12th fighting season for U.S. forces in Afghanistan has meant continued transition for Marines in Helmand province — including mostly standing by as the Taliban launches attacks in the region. A large number of Taliban insurgents, along with foreign fighters, tried to overrun Sangin district this week, prompting a two-day engagement with Afghan National Security Forces, military officials said. The fight was outlined by a Wall Street Journal reporter in Afghanistan this week, launching it into the limelight. In past years — even last year — Marines would have been in the middle of the fracas.…

Attacks in Afghanistan: Here are the statistics for RC-Southwest

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As you may have seen today in this story, Marine officials in Afghanistan released to me statistics outlining enemy-initiated attacks. The numbers compared 2011 and 2012 by district, shedding light on an interesting period of transition in southwestern Afghanistan. My story on the subject is posted here. We’ve also posted the whole slide that I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) released, so you can check out the details yourself. Among the details that stuck out for me: Sangin Lt. Col. David Bradney, head of 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, told me in an interview in October that his Marines had “punched them…

Afghanistan mission for 2/7 Marines evolves

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If you’re curious what a U.S. drawdown in Afghanistan looks like, search no farther than northern Helmand province. The region was once the site of massive fighting that killed dozens of Marines in Sangin district alone in fall 2010. Musa Qala, Kajaki and Now Zad districts also have seen their fair share of violence and casualties. Since spending a fair share of the fall in Helmand, the battalion in northern Helmand rotated. Second Battalion, 7th Marines, out of Twentynine Palms, Calif., replaced its sister unit, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines. Lt. Col. Donald Tomich discussed the battalion’s deployment with me recently,…

Kajaki Dam project reportedly on the horizon in Afghanistan

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Ten years after the war in Afghanistan began, thousands of Marines pushed northeast from Sangin district up Route 611 in Helmand province in 2011 during Operation Eastern Storm. They tangled with the Taliban in a variety of areas of volatile Kajaki district that had rarely been touched by coalition forces, and engaged in a number of ugly fights along the way. That operation marked one of the last major offensives for the Marines in Afghanistan. As we reported while embedded last spring here, here and here, Marine officers transition within months of that operation to turning Kajaki over to Afghan…

In defense of the U.S. military in Afghanistan

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Ever since U.S Marines killed three children in an airstrike in Helmand province in October, a debate has raged online: Is the U.S. deliberately killing kids in Afghanistan? It’s a frustrating conversation, fed in part recently by an inflammatory piece published by Robert Dreyfuss for The Nation this month. Taking an article I wrote with assistance from Army Times colleague Joe Gould out of context, Dreyfuss said a U.S. officer acknowledged “the military isn’t just out to bomb ‘military age males,’ anymore, but kids, too.” There’s a major problem, though: the officer quoted, Army Lt. Col. Marion “Ced” Carrington, never…

Helmand districts still Afghanistan’s most violent: report

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The more things change, the more they remain the same. Nearly five years after Marines first kicked in the door in Helmand province, the area remains one Afghanistan’s most violent, according to a new Defense Department report released Monday. In fact, Helmand is home to Afghanistan’s most violent district — Nahr-e Saraj — and eight of the 10 most violent districts overall. Those details are outlined in a Pentagon publication released for Congress. Nahr-e Saraj was the site of 10 percent of all enemy initiated attacks in Afghanistan from April to October of this year despite being home to less…

Quantico trails named for OEF/OIF battles

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MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. – Officer candidates will now be training and running on trails named for some of the hardest battles fought by Marines during the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Col. Kris Stillings, commanding officer at Officer Candidates School, led a ceremony today here at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. He stood with officer candidates lined up in formation at the newly named intersection of Fallujah and Kunar trails. Sangin Trail, the third to be named, runs slightly to the north. “These trails, just like the other trails we have here … these names mean something,”…

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