Sunday, January 31, 2010

US Marines facing a 'different war' in Afghanistan

By C. J. CHIVERS, New York Times

Abdul Salam, an elder in this impoverished Afghan village, rose to meet the approaching Marines and Navy corpsman. Behind him, his mosque had a new concrete floor and two windows. Last month, before the Marines paid him to refurbish it, the mosque was windowless and had a dirt floor.

The Marines’ investment, $1,200 to pay for building materials and labor, was part of an outreach effort intended to reduce violence in Helmand Province.

Following the emphasis on a more assertive counterinsurgency approach mandated last year by Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the commander of American forces in Afghanistan, here on some of the country’s most dangerous ground, infantry units are using this winter to try a soft touch.

In the province’s lower Nawa District, many conventional missions for now are a low priority. Airstrikes and high-explosive artillery fire are in disfavor. Even mortar fire is rare.

Instead, in places where it is able, the infantry is sending patrols to enter into development contracts with local men. The ambition is to use local labor to build bridges over canals, shore up irrigation systems, repair water gates or small dams and, in the most determined contest of influence against the Taliban, renovate mosques.

The effort rests on a simple premise: to fight the Taliban, money may be more effective than guns. “We’re trying to buy a little peace,” said Capt. Paul D. Stubbs, commanding officer of Company W, First Battalion, Third Marines, which operates in this area.

For the full article click here


  1. Thank you for posting this.I feel the Marines,and British forces have a better handle on the working of COIN.still a lot of work ahead tho. ALL OF YOU,stay safe.

  2. The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 02/01/2010 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

  3. I know this policy is effective but I have to wonder what kind of stink there would be if they were Christian churches instead of mosques. It is, after all, the US government directly supporting one religion to the exclusion of all others. Look at the Trijicon hoopla.