1/8/17, "U.S. to send 300 Marines to Afghanistan's Helmand province," Reuters, Josh Smith
"About 300 U.S.
Marines will be sent to Afghanistan's Helmand province to assist Afghan
security forces battling Taliban insurgents in intelligence and
logistics matters, the unit's commander said over the weekend.
deployment to Helmand will be the Marines' first to the southern
province since they left in 2014 as the U.S. declared an end to its
combat mission. Since then, Afghan security forces, still backed by
Washington in the form of air strikes and hundreds of advisors, have
struggled to contain the Taliban advance in Helmand.
General Roger Turner told reporters on a conference call that the
deployment would be part of a regular rotation to replace a U.S. Army
unit already training and advising Afghan troops in the province. And
although the 300 Marines would mostly be experienced and senior officers
who will work on intelligence, logistics, and administration, Turner
said they were braced for a dangerous mission.
viewing this as a high-risk mission...We're not in any way viewing this
as a noncombat mission, or something to take lightly."
of thousands of Marines fought fierce battles against the Taliban in
Helmand over five years.
Nearly 1,000 coalition troops have been killed
there since the U.S.-led military intervention in 2001, more than in any
In the last two
years the Taliban have captured areas that were the site of some of the
deadliest battles for the Marines, including Sangin, Marjah and Nowzad,
and for much of 2016 they have threatened to take the provincial capital
a statement posted online, Taliban officials ridiculed the Marines'
deployment as one of the "final failed efforts" by outgoing U.S.
President Barack Obama to stem the violence in Afghanistan.
recent months the U.S. military has also announced rotations of roughly
3,000 Army soldiers to Afghanistan, where about 8,400 American troops
conduct both advising missions, as well as "counter terrorism"
operations against groups like Islamic State and al Qaeda.
A small number of Marines are already in Afghanistan, including around 60 who help to secure the huge air base at Bagram."