Combat Is No Longer Off The Table For Marines In Afghanistan

news
U.S. Marine Corps/Sgt. Lucas Hopkins

The Marines in southern Afghanistan are tasked with helping Afghan security forces from inside the wire, but their commander said it is also possible for them to go into combat.


Marine Brig. Gen. Benjamin Watson leads the second rotation of Task Force Southwest, which assumed the mission of advising Afghan troops and police on Monday. The Marines, mostly from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, are trained to assist the Afghans with operations, logistics and other battlefield tasks.

Over the past nine months, Marine commanders have consistently said that the Marines in Helmand province do not accompany Afghan troops and police into battle, but on Monday, Watson gave a slightly different answer when asked if the Marines’ mission includes fighting alongside the Afghans.

“We have the authority to do that,” Watson told Task & Purpose. “Whether or not we exercise that authority is going to depend on how we assess the situation at the time, and obviously I’m not going to get into specifics on that.”

A Marine with Task Force Southwest observes an Afghan soldier on the rifle range.U.S. Marine Corps/Sgt. Lucas Hopkins

Nothing in Watson’s well-couched answer indicates that Marines are about to launch “Operation Marjah II: The Revenge,” but his comments leave the door open for Marines embedding with Afghan units when they battle the Taliban.

Until now, that wasn’t part of the mission. None of the roughly 300 Marines returning home from Helmand province after nine months has received a Combat Action Ribbon stemming from the deployment, Marine Corps Times reported last week.

Even though the Marines did not go into combat, they still got some. In October, the task force received a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, which it used to destroy Taliban bomb-making factories and drug labs.

The strikes on the drug labs were part of a wider blitz by the U.S. military to choke off the Taliban’s financing. Air Force fighters and bombers also attacked the Taliban’s narcotics network.

However, Watson cautioned that the task force is only interested in eliminating drug labs that finance Taliban operations. The broader counternarcotics mission falls under the Afghan government’s purview. Ultimately, success in Afghanistan will require an Afghan solution, he said.

“We’re focused on the security lane and try to set the conditions for the Afghans to achieve some kind of sustainable solution in the long term,” Watson said.

Toward that end, the Marines will expand on efforts over the past nine months to advise Afghan units at the brigade and the battalion level, he said.The new task force brings “some enhanced capabilities” that will allow more Marines to deploy to Afghan base.

During the previous rotation, small teams of Marines known as “expeditionary adviser packages”  reportedly traveled to Afghan forward operating bases to help Afghan units with fire support and other missions.

The new task force brings “some enhanced capabilities” that will give the Marines the security needed to deploy to Afghan bases, which are spread out across Helmand province, Watson said.

“It’s more persistent advising as opposed to episodic advising at a lower level,” Watson said. “We’ll be able to increase the number of units that we advise on a persistent basis, but we’ll still retain the capacity to episodically advise other units, as the mission requires.”

Casperassets.rbl.ms

Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.

Take $75 off a Casper Mattress and $150 off a Wave Mattress with code TASKANDPURPOSE

And no one knows that better than military service members and we have the pictures to prove it.

Read More Show Less
A Coalition convoy stops to test fire their M2 machine guns and MK19 Grenade Launcher in the Middle Euphrates River Valley in the Deir ez-Zor province, Syria, Nov. 22, 2018 (U.S. Army/Sgt. Matthew Crane)

BEIRUT (Reuters) - A suicide bomber drove his car into a checkpoint in northeastern Syria on Monday, injuring several soldiers of Kurdish-led forces during a joint convoy with U.S. allies, locals said.

Read More Show Less

Video game company Blizzard Entertainment, which creates blockbuster franchises like World of Warcraft and Overwatch, has stood behind veteran employment for years. On top of hiring veterans, they support many related programs, including Activision Blizzard's Call of Duty Endowment. Blizzard's goal there is to help veterans find careers by supporting organizations that prepare veterans for the job market.

Read More Show Less
A combat patrol advanced three miles north of Lucca (furthermost point occupied by American troops) to contact an enemy machine gun nest in September 1944 as part of the Italian Campaign (DoD/National Archives and Records Administration)

World War II Army veteran Milton Miller says he has never forgotten an act of cowardice by his platoon leader.

It happened in the Alban Hills south of Rome following the Allied Forces' amphibious invasion on the Italian beaches of Anzio in January 1944.

Read More Show Less

The Israeli military followed up on its weekend strikes in Syria the same way that any modern military might: By taunting its regional foe Iran with a silly-ass tweet.

Read More Show Less