Afghanistan’s Fallujah? (Center for Defense Studies)
Jeffrey Dressler post at AEI's Center for Defense Studies
9,000 Marines will be headed to southern Helmand province, only days after President Obama’s Afghan address. The Washington Post’s Greg Jaffe reports that the additional Marines will double the size of the U.S. force in Helmand. Their mission? Seize Helmand’s insurgent safe-haven in Marjeh, just 25 kilometers west of the provincial capital, Lashkar Gah.
Marjeh has been an insurgent stronghold for last several years. The town of Marjeh is part of Nad Ali district, inhabited by approximately 50,000 residents in the heart of Helmand’s poppy country. The town provides insurgents with a sanctuary to store weapons, refine and transit opium, build IEDs and plan attacks to the north and south. It is strategically located just west of the provincial capital and south of the centrally located city of Gereshk on Afghanistan’s only highway and is a key route for coalition logistics. The insurgents based in and around Marjeh have targeted the highway and coalition troops in and around Lashkar Gah. In the past two years, insurgents from Marjeh launched two large-scale assaults that threatened to overrun the provincial capital.
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