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October 11, 2007
Marines to redeploy from Iraq to Afghanistan?
Pentagon officials have been looking at the drastically reduced violence in Anbar province and are contemplating redeploying the bulk of the 25,000 Marines to Afghanistan:
The Marine Corps is making a bid to take over the command and primary mission of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, anticipating a gradual withdrawal of its troops from Iraq's western province of Anbar, senior military and Pentagon officials said. Two significant points to make. First, the military obviously feels that the progress made in Anbar is not temporary and will allow a slightly faster drawdown of US troops from the province as was previously suggested.
The proposal, discussed at senior levels of the Pentagon last week, would have the Marine Corps replace the Army as the lead U.S. force in Afghanistan, where U.S. troops number more than 25,000 and make up the largest contingent of the NATO-led force there.
No major Marine Corps combat units are deployed to Afghanistan, although recently Marine special operations units have served there. The top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David H. Petraeus, announced the withdrawal of 2,200 Marines from Anbar last month as the first element of a drawdown of approximately 21,700 combat troops scheduled to exit Iraq by July 2008.
There are about 25,000 Marines in Anbar, out of 169,000 total U.S. troops in Iraq. The second-ranking U.S. commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, said this month that he is inclined to pull other U.S. forces out of Anbar as early as December as a result of declining levels of violence there.
Secondly, if I were a Taliban fighter in Afghanistan, I might want to look into purchasing a good life insurnance policy.
The Taliban is currently engaged in a bitter battle with the Pakistani military in the Waziristans in anticipation of a general Taliban offensive western intelligence believes will begin at the end of this month, after Ramadan is over. An addition of several thousand battle hardened Marines will be most welcome, I'm sure.
The war in Afghanistan has not been going well of late with Taliban swarming into many of the provinces thanks to a wink and a nod from Pakistani border guards as well as the Pakistani government. The Marines will no doubt find a target rich environment. This is the kind of mission where the Marines can make a difference which I'm sure is why they are eager to be redeployed:
Marine Corps officers who have served in Iraq expressed enthusiasm for the idea, which would in essence allow the service to extricate itself from the increasingly unpopular and costly Iraq war. In turn, it would shift its emphasis to the conflict in Afghanistan, which, along with bordering tribal regions of Pakistan, constitutes a major counterterrorism mission for the United States. The battle against terrorism in Afghanistan is about to get a much needed shot in the arm.