The Marine Corps is wasting no time raising an offensive against the Taliban. Early Friday morning 3rd Bn 4th Marines launched an aerial raid with a reconnaissance battalion from Task Force Raider. All in all, about 1,000 Marines and Afghan soldiers launched the operation called “Cobra’s Anger” into the northern end of Now Zad Valley, in Helmand province. And that’s not all.They were dropped deep into enemy territory in CH-53 Super Stallion helicopters and MV-22 Osprey. This is the first combat air assault by the Ospreys in a unit larger than platoons. Already the Marines have recovered over 400 pounds of demolitions and several arms caches. By Friday evening (Afghanistan time), they had recovered about 700 land mines and IEDs in an area named “IED alley”, according to the Associated Press. The mission’s goal is to disrupt Taliban supply lines and sever their communication. Now Zad has been the scene of intense fighting over the last eight months or so, with a hard front being located just a few hundred meters north of the Marine’s base Camp Leatherneck.
Now Zad’s inhhabitants, which used to number close to 30,000, have left the town a barren wasteland, causing British troops to christen the place “Apocalypse Now-Zad” when they left the area early last summer.
This MV-22 Osprey is badass. I first saw them in December, 2004 in the USMC Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, California. They were testing these bad boys in inclement weather. I had the chance to watch a pair of them take off, almost get blown off my feet by the rotorwash, and then be amazed when as soon as I looked up they were almost over the horizon. They take off like a helicopter and fly like a plane. It’s impressive. Speed, surprise, and violence of action.
It sounds like the Taliban have a hard core presence in the area, and an offensive is just what they need right now to rally support for Obama’s planned troop increase.
Semper Fi, Marines. Waste no time getting to business.