Last time I talked a little bit about pushing the Taliban back in the North of Afghanistan. There’s also a lot going on in South Afghanistan too. Service members from Marine Expeditionary Brigade-Afghanistan recently put the US resolve to the test, doing their duty.
“Afghanistan can be extremely dangerous and unpredictable,” said Maj. Tom Clinton, a senior watch officer with the brigade’s command element. “Some call this country the ‘graveyard of empires.’”
Those that don’t know their history are doomed to repeat it. That’s why Afghanistan might finally be different this time.
Helmand in Southern Afghanistan is a land of extremes, according to the Helmand Provincial Handbook. It’s the largest and one of the most volatile provinces in Afghanistan.
“At one time, we would engage no more than seven to 15 enemies in firefights,” Clinton said. “Once in Garmsir, that number was at least if not more than 300.”
Pashtuns constitute the overwhelming majority in Helmand, according to the manual, making up 94 percent of the population. The Pashtun ethnic group is unique in comparison to other groups around the world. They very strictly follow the Islamic religion down to the letter of the law, to the detriment of many, many people in the area.
“The big challenge we face is that we want to help and do things right away,” said Clinton, who spent much of his deployments around local Afghan leaders. “But in order to be successful, you have to get to know the people. It took me more than one month in one case just to get one of the village elders to speak to me. We must have patience.”
These are very wise words. It’s like the bullet in one of the photos below.
Sgt. Stryker Out.
Working Hard in Comoros
Seaman Travis C. Porter, engineering aide constructionman, assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 11, Detachment Horn of Africa, takes measurements in a rain storm for the Hamramba School Project. NMCB-11 is deployed for the first time since being re-established in 2007 and is working on four schools in the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa area of responsibility. Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Erick Holmes
Iraqi Special Forces Conduct Live Fire Training
An Iraqi special operations forces soldier fires at a target during assault rifle training on May 2 in Al-Asad, Iraq. ISOF conducted assault rifle training to site in their M-4 assault rifles and to conduct live fire tactical training exercises to hone in their skills. Photo by Eric Lippmann
Practice Makes Perfect for Charlie Company
Marines with Weapons Platoon, Charlie Company, Battalion Landing Team 1/1, 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, line up on the firing line during training in the Combat Marksmanship Program on the flight deck of USS Boxer, May 11. The 13th MEU and Boxer Amphibious Readiness Group are currently on a deployment in support of regional and Maritime Security Operations. Photo by Cpl. Robert C. Medina
Andrews Air Force Base Joint Service Open House Air Show
2009 Joint Service Open House Air Show takes place at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., May 15. There are a variety of military air crafts and land maneuver equipment displays in this show and the Thunderbird team has a highline performance in the show. Photos by Spc. Jean-Paul G. Li