Full Force

Marines Launch Afghan Offensive

In the wee hours of Saturday, close to 3,500 U.S. Marines and 1,500 Afghan soldiers descended on Marja, a region of Afghanistan that has traditionally been a Taliban stronghold. “We’re going to take Marja away from the Taliban,” said Brig. Gen. Lawrence D. Nicholson, in a move that could lead to “a fundamental change in Helmand and, by extension, the entire nation of Afghanistan.” The operation is one of the largest ever in Afghanistan and is marked by closer cooperation with Afghan forces than previous missions; local tribal elders reportedly support the surge. Officials are keeping a close eye on the mission, called a “test of the central government’s ability to reach down to a still-volatile part of the country and deliver sustainable governance" by the State Department representative to the Marine brigade.