Life at the Yellow Schoolhouse unfolds

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A Marine watches dried poppy burn on a road in Marjah, Afghanistan. The Marines lit in on fire to make it clear that dried poppy, used to hide improvised explosive devices by the Taliban, is not welcome on Marjah's streets.  Dan Lamothe//Staff

A Marine watches dried poppy burn on a road in Marjah, Afghanistan. The Marines lit in on fire to make it clear that dried poppy, used to hide improvised explosive devices by the Taliban, is not welcome on Marjah's streets. (Dan Lamothe/Staff)

MARJAH, Afghanistan — It’s day three for Tom Brown and I today at the Yellow Schoolhouse, a school built by the U.S. in Afghanistan in the 1950s. We went on a patrol with Marines on Sunday, and while it was uneventful, it was clear just how active the Taliban has been recently in this area.

The patrol took us through several areas where Marines have been ambushed recently, including one Thursday in which eight to 10 insurgents opened fire on a group of Marines from India Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines. An Afghan National Army soldier was killed in the attack.

Marines are also beginning to tell local farmers to stop leaving their dried poppy on the roads in front of their houses. With so little vegetation in the area, many farmers dry out the plants to burn later and store it on the streets — a problem, considering the Taliban has apparently begun to hide IEDs underneath the piles.

Through interpeters, Marines are warning that if farmers don’t move the piles, they will burn them. Marines allowed a farmer who owned the pile photographed above to put out the fire on the condition that he moved it within 24 hours.

One unrelated point: The Marines here have run out of wag bags, and are waiting for a re-supply convoy to deliver them along with other supplies. Just sayin’…

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About Author

I’m a senior writer with Marine Corps Times, covering ground warfare, manpower, weapons acquisition and other beats. I embedded in Afghanistan in spring 2010, and plan to return at least once in 2011.

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