Last July, in the biggest operation of the eight-year-old war, around 4,000 Marines pushed south of the provincial capital, Lashkar Gah, into Taliban-controlled areas, setting up patrol bases along the way to try and secure the area.
They left one area largely untouched: Marjah, a town surrounded by a dense warren of irrigation canals.
With the new reinforcements on their way as part of Obama’s 30,000-strong troop drive announced last month, the Marines’ commander does not bother to keep his plans a secret.
“Well it’s pretty obvious, there’s only one place left: that’s Marjah. I don’t think its any great leap of logic to say where we’re going next,” said Brigadier General Larry Nicholson, commander of all the Marines in southern Afghanistan.
“We’re bringing in 10,000 Marines. It’s not a secret. There’s only one place left in the entire area of operations where the enemy is at,” he said.
Marjah is strategic, lying just west of the provincial capital. The town is surrounded by lush farmland crisscrossed by canals that water the opium poppy crop, making it a hub for the narcotics trade in central Helmand.
2010-01-12 07:20:55 UTC