9,000 more Marines headed to Helmand

Washington Post:

Days after President Obama outlines his new war strategy in a speech Tuesday, as many as 9,000 Marines will begin final preparations to deploy to southern Afghanistan and renew an assault on a Taliban stronghold that slowed this year amid a troop shortage and political pressure from the Afghan government, senior U.S. officials said.

The extra Marines will be the first to move into the country as part of Obama's escalation of the eight-year-old war. They will double the size of the U.S. force in the southern province of Helmand and will provide a critical test for Afghan President Hamid Karzai's struggling government and Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal's counterinsurgency strategy.

"The first troops out of the door are going to be Marines," Gen. James T. Conway, the Corps' top officer, told fellow Marines in Afghanistan on Saturday. "We've been leaning forward in anticipation of a decision. And we've got some pretty stiff fighting coming."

The Marines will be quickly followed by about 1,000 U.S. Army trainers. They will deploy as early as February to speed the growth of the Afghan army and police force, military officials said.

...

The parceling-out of reinforcements is driven in part by Afghanistan's lack of infrastructure, which cannot immediately support a larger U.S. force. The phased approach will also allow the president to cancel some of the additional reinforcements if the counterinsurgency strategy advocated by McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, does not show results or if the Karzai government does not meet goals for stamping out corruption and providing for the Afghan people, White House officials said.

...


The suggestion that troops will not be sent if the counterinsurgency strategy is not working is nonsensical. The troops are needed to make it work. The strategy requires an adequate force to space ratio and the troops being sent are probably at best the minimum required to make it work. This reminds me of the time Sen. Reid declared the Iraq surge a failure before the troops were even deployed.

In Helmand, where Marines are already deployed there are some success stories already such as Nawa. This deployment will give more areas a chance to benefit from being protected by the Marines.

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