More Marines Are Headed For Afghanistan To Support The 300 Already There

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Sgt. Patrick Clancy, a squad leader with 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force - Crisis Response - Central Command, provides security during a Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel exercise at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, May 23, 2016.
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Trever Statz

The Marine Corps is sending additional troops to Afghanistan in response to a request from Task Force Southwest, a 300-strong contingent of Marines based in Helmand province, according to an Aug. 8 NBC News report.


The additional force — totaling less than 100 — will deploy from the Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force Crisis Response Central Command, based in the region. The new deployees will assist with “internal force protection,” according to three U.S. defense officials who spoke with NBC News, but the officials did not say where the additional troops would deploy — only that the service was “redirecting them from where they're at now to help with the mission.”

The news comes as the Pentagon weighs whether to send an additional 4,000 troops to Afghanistan to bolster the 8,400 currently there, or whether to ramp down U.S. involvement in the nation. The U.S. troops in Afghanistan are tasked with training and advising their Afghan counterparts to tackle a resurgent Taliban and a nascent Islamic State threat in the country. The “advise and assist” mission isn’t technically direct combat, but U.S. troops frequently embed with Afghan forces to provide kinetic support, which puts them in harm's way.

Two U.S. soldiers were killed, and four wounded, in a Taliban attack on a NATO convoy on Aug. 2, bringing the total number of American troop deaths in Afghanistan this year to nine, reports ABC.

The request for additional Marines is not linked to the White House’s pending strategy for Afghanistan, reports NBC. The call for additional Marines came from the commander for Task Force Southwest, Brig. Gen. Roger Turner, and was approved by Central Command’s Gen. Joseph Votel.

Related: I Deployed Twice To Helmand, I Can’t Believe Marines Are Going Back »

President Donald Trump announced in June that he would delegate troop-level authority to the Secretary of Defense, retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, but the decision for additional Marines did not require Mattis’ sign-off, one of the officials told NBC.

"The commander on the ground has the authority to move people in theater around," the official told NBC, referring to the Marines with the Special Purpose MAGTF, who are based in southwest Asia.

According to NBC, the officials said there was a yet-to-be approved request for additional U.S. air support, but provided no details on what aircraft were needed and why.

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Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.

We are women veterans who have served in the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. Our service – as aviators, ship drivers, intelligence analysts, engineers, professors, and diplomats — spans decades. We have served in times of peace and war, separated from our families and loved ones. We are proud of our accomplishments, particularly as many were earned while immersed in a military culture that often ignores and demeans women's contributions. We are veterans.

Yet we recognize that as we grew as leaders over time, we often failed to challenge or even question this culture. It took decades for us to recognize that our individual successes came despite this culture and the damage it caused us and the women who follow in our footsteps. The easier course has always been to tolerate insulting, discriminatory, and harmful behavior toward women veterans and service members and to cling to the idea that 'a few bad apples' do not reflect the attitudes of the whole.

Recent allegations that Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie allegedly sought to intentionally discredit a female veteran who reported a sexual assault at a VA medical center allow no such pretense.

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