A New Style of War in Marja
6:07 PM, Mar 1, 2010 • By JOHN NOONAN
Now that fighting in Marja has boiled down to minor skirmishes, here are a few points worth noting:
Operation Moshtarak constituted a new style of warfare, where several innovative COIN tactics and weapon systems finally synchronized into cohesive strategy.
Airpower, once the crux of heavy kinetic operations, largely fell by the wayside. UAVs soared overhead, sometimes shooting, but more often than not providing Marines with lighting swift intelligence and bird's eye surveillance.
Tanks originally designed to plug the Fulda Gap from heavy Soviet divisions were modified into "breachers," a glorified form of armored infantry support used to open ingress routes through minefields and Taliban booby traps.
Marine officers carried briefcases full of currency, and they instantly paid for collateral damage to homes and businesses.
It was a fascinating amalgamation of fighting styles, with the normally heavy and fast MOUT (military operations on urban terrain) operations subdued by the delicate, deliberate pace of a counter-insurgency. This is the new face of U.S. war fighting, destruction becomes construction, grunts become governors.
Also worth mentioning: If the Global War on Terror is the first Internet war, Marja was without doubt the first Twitter battle. Tweets poured in from Royal Air Force airmen to public affairs officers stationed in Helmand, frequently in real time. Military transformation, as it is, isn't limited to strategy and tactics.