Magazine May 3, 2010, Issue

The Battle of Marja

The author (front, center-right) with Special Operations task force Commando
A report, with recommendations, from the front lines

February’s seizure of the Taliban stronghold called Marja, in Helmand Province, was the largest operation in the Afghan War since 2001. It was conducted by approximately 4,000 American and 1,500 Afghan troops, facing 400 to 800 insurgents. To follow its progress, I checked in at the U.S. Marine brigade headquarters, began the operation with Battalion 1-6, and then spent most of the month in southern Marja with a Special Operations task force, appropriately called Commando. This was my third embed in a year in Helmand Province, the opium capital of the world.

The question following the operation is whether the successful

Bing WestMr. West, a former assistant secretary of defense and combat Marine, is a military historian. He has written ten books about our wars in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, the latest of which is The Last Platoon: A Novel of the Afghanistan War.

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