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U.S. Marines in Afghanistan, 2010-2014: Anthology and Annotated Bibliography


In late 2009, President Barack H. Obama determined that the situation in Afghanistan required a surge of troop reinforcements. For the U.S. Marine Corps, this meant that the Marine involvement in that theater of the Global War on Terrorism would continue to intensify. A Marine expeditionary brigade was deployed to Afghanistan in 2009, where the troop surge and increased Marine presence led to the Marines taking control of security operations for Helmand and Nimroz Provinces in 2010. The Corps’ insistence on autonomy within its provinces led to the nickname “Marineistan.” The Marine Corps’ initially sporadic participation in Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) was covered in an earlier volume of this series, U.S. Marines in Afghanistan, 2001–2009: Anthology and Annotated Bibliography. This new volume in the series covers Marine operations in Afghanistan from the surge in 2010 to the end of the drawdown in 2014. During the majority of the period covered in this volume, two Marines were the senior American commanders in Afghanistan. General John R. Allen commanded the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and U.S. Forces Afghanistan from 18 July 2011 to 10 February 2013. He was succeeded by General Joseph F. Dunford Jr. On 26 August 2014, Dunford was followed by U.S. Army General John F. Campbell. The Marine Corps approached its increased role in Afghanistan with enthusiasm, employing the Corps’ traditional expertise in counterinsurgency (COIN) warfare acquired through the Banana Wars and the Vietnam War as well as lessons learned more recently in Iraq during the al-Anbar Awakening. Additionally, the recently created U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC) fully participated in U.S. Special Operations Command’s Afghanistan missions during this period. In 2010, Marines launched Operation Moshtarak in Helmand Province in an effort to clear the Taliban out of the central part of the province. Combat operations intensified during this period, especially in the Marjah District of Helmand Province, as the Marine Corps pressured the Taliban. At the same time, Marines aided in the intensified training that prepared Afghanistan’s military and police forces to take over security of their nation. Throughout 2011 and 2012, Marine units rotated into Afghanistan and continued to conduct raids and patrols throughout the Marineistan provinces, suppressing the poppy harvest and eliminating Taliban caches and sanctuaries. However, in late 2012, the Taliban launched a successful raid on Camp Bastion, an airfield and logistics base northwest of Lashkar Gah, Helmand Province, destroying six McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier IIs and badly damaging two others from Marine Attack Squadron 211 (VMA-211). Marine aviation personnel fought back as infantry; a role Marines of this squadron last performed on Wake Island during World War II. In the four-hour firefight, all 15 of the attacking Taliban were killed or captured, but Lieutenant Colonel Christopher K. Raible and Sergeant Bradley W. Atwell were killed. Marines continued COIN and training operations throughout 2013 and 2014, turning over responsibility for security operations to Afghani forces district by district. In May 2014, President Obama declared U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan would end in December of that same year. In October 2014, Marines handed Camp Leatherneck in Helmand Province over to Afghan forces, and in December, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the United States “ended” combat operations in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, this act proved premature. Since 2014, the insurgency in Afghanistan has increased, and the U.S. Army has redeployed major units there. Marines remained in Afghanistan serving in joint operations billets in the training mission. The war in Afghanistan has yet to reach a clean conclusion.

311 pages

Categories: All Books, Miscellaneous, War in Afghanistan


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