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Happy Birthday, Marines!

No better friend, no worse enemy.

10:37 AM, Nov 10, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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At Tun Tavern in Philadelphia 235 years ago today, the Marine Corps was formed. The Washington Post has an interesting (and somewhat encouraging) report, "U.S. takes on violent Afghan valley that bled Brits," on what the Marines are doing today in Afghanistan to defend America:

[O]ne of the first things the Marines did when they took over Sangin [in northern Helmand] was close roughly half the 22 patrol bases the British set up throughout the district - a clear rejection of the main pillar of Britain's strategy, which was based on neighborhood policing tactics used in Northern Ireland.

The bases were meant to improve security in Sangin, but the British ended up allocating a large percentage of their soldiers to protect them from being overrun by the Taliban. That gave the insurgents almost total freedom of movement in the district.

"The fact that a lot of those patrol bases were closed down frees up maneuver forces so that you can go out and take the fight to the enemy," Morris said during an interview at the battalion's main base in the district center, Forward Operating Base Jackson. [...]

In addition to conducting more patrols, the Marine battalion has adopted a more aggressive posture than the British, according to Afghan army Lt. Mohammad Anwar, who has been in Sangin for two years.

"When the Taliban attacked, the British would retreat into their base, but the Marines fight back," said Anwar.

Insurgents fired at members of 1st Platoon, India Company, during a recent patrol near the battalion's main base, and the Marines responded with a deafening roar of machine gun fire, grenades, and mortars. They also tried to launch a rocket that turned out to be a dud.

"The Taliban like to engage us, and I like to make it an unfair fight," said India Company's commander, Capt. Chris Esrey of Havelock, North Carolina. "If you shoot at us with 7.62 (millimeter bullets), I'm going to respond with rockets."

But Taliban attacks have taken their toll. Thirteen Marines have been killed and 49 wounded since the battalion arrived. Most of those casualties have come from IEDs, or improvised explosive devices, that the insurgents hide in compounds, along trails and in dense fields where they are hard to detect.

The Marines believe their operations are beginning to improve security, and they say tips have started to trickle in from locals on the location of IEDs.

Read the whole thing here

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