Leapin’ Lima Leatherneck!

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Marine photo / Cpl. Timothy Lenzo

Lima Co.'s Sergeant Ben Edwards of 3rd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 7, leaps an irrigation ditch in Helmand province Nov. 27.

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Helmand -  where the U.S. waged its biggest battle. 

MARJAH, Afghanistan — Nearly three years after U.S.-led forces launched the biggest operation of the war to clear insurgents, foster economic growth and set a model for the rest of Afghanistan, angry residents of Helmand province say they are too afraid to go out after dark because of marauding bands of thieves. . . .

It was in the town of Marjah in early 2010 that some 15,000 NATO and Afghan forces waged the war’s biggest battle. They not only fought the Taliban with weapons, they promised to bring good governance to Marjah and the rest of the southern province of Helmand — and demonstrate to the residents the advantages of shunning the militants.

But it appears the flaw in the plan was with the quality of Afghans chosen by President Hamid Karzai to govern and police the area after most of the fighting ended. And that adds to growing doubts about the entire country’s future after foreign troops withdraw by the end of 2014.

Despite military claims of gains across the province and an overall drop in violence, Marjah residents told The Associated Press that NATO’s counterinsurgency experiment has failed. A bleak picture also emerges from anecdotal evidence collected from dozens of interviews with residents elsewhere in the province, some from the most violent districts.



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