With War in Afghanistan over (?), U.S. Army prepares to send Infantry Battalion to Helmand Province
If the title of this post doesn’t make any sense to you whatsoever, you are in good company, because no one I’ve talked to understands it either.
Other publications are also talking about it. Like the New York Times:
It will be the largest deployment of American troops outside major bases in Afghanistan since the end of the NATO combat mission in 2014. Though the military insists that the soldiers will not take active combat roles, American Special Operations forces have increasingly been drawn into the fighting in Helmand as one important district after another has fallen or been threatened by Taliban insurgents.Col. Michael T. Lawhorn, a spokesman for the United States military in Afghanistan, said in a statement that the new deployment would provide protection for the current Special Operations troops in Helmand and give extra support and training for the 215th Corps of the Afghan National Army. Afghan forces in Helmand have taken heavy casualties in recent months and have been cut off by the Taliban in many places.
But by way pf perspective, we’re sending 500 troops to a province that is 22,619 square miles, which probably doesn’t mean much, until you realize that it’s roughly the same size as West Virginia. And if you’ve never driven through West Virginia, maybe a better comparison would be that Helmand is bigger than New Hampshire, New Jersey and and Connecticut combined. In other words, that’s a pretty damn big AO to have only 500 guys in.
The Guardian out of UK had a bit more to note about the oddity of providing combat troops to what is not supposed to be combat:
In keeping with Barack Obama’s formal declaration that the US is not engaged in combat, despite elite forces recently participating in an hours-long battle in Helmand, defense officials said the additional troops would not take part in combat. But they will help the existing Helmand force defend itself against Taliban attacks, officials said.
US military officials declined to offer many specifics about an upcoming reinforcement, but they described the mission as primarily aimed at bolstering the performance of the embattled 215th Corps of the Afghan military, through training as well as protecting other troops training Afghans in Helmand.
I don’t know what to make of it all to be honest, but I wish you guys well. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to do an embed out there next year and see what is really going on.