March 30th, 2010
04:13 PM ET

Around the Web: Comparing Marjah and Kandahar

The next major battle in Afghanistan is expected to take place in Kandahar, and Yaroslav Trofimov of the Wall Street Journal reports that it might “look completely different from Marjah, where thousands of U.S. Marines fought their way into rural areas under total Taliban control.”  

Trofimov writes: “No combat is needed for coalition or Afghan troops to enter Kandahar city, the Taliban movement's birthplace. Unlike Marjah, this metropolis of one million people has remained under government authority, albeit an increasingly tenuous one, since the Taliban regime's downfall in 2001. U.S. and Canadian patrols rumble through the city every day; a huge coalition base sits in its outskirts.

The Afghan government here, however, has been so weak, predatory and corrupt that more and more Kandaharis have come to view the Taliban as a lesser evil. Changing this perception holds the key to victory in the city—and to the success of the surge, coalition officials say.”


March 30th, 2010
10:20 AM ET

Behind the scenes: The Marines embedded in memory

Editor's Note: CNN camerawoman Mary Rogers accompanied a U.S. Marine Corps unit on Operation Moshtarak in Marjah from its preparations into the first few weeks. A veteran of warzone reporting, she has filmed in places such as Somalia, Sierra Leone, the Congo, Iraq, Chechnya, Israel, the West Bank, Lebanon and Afghanistan in 2001 and 2002. Here is part 2 of her reflections on her time in Marjah and a behind-the-scenes look at the challenges and camaraderie reporting from the Afghan battlefield. (Read Part 1 here)

Many times on assignments there have been people I have been instinctively drawn to (or my camera naturally gravitates to). I do not know why this is. They are people who I will never forget. Most of them spoke a language I did not understand. Not so with the Marines in Marjah. Perhaps what made this assignment so special was that I shared a bond of nationality and language with the men of Alpha Company. Here are a few of my recollections about the men with whom we slogged through Marjah. FULL POST

March 30th, 2010
08:16 AM ET

Inside Asia's largest displacement camp

[cnn-video url=]

Camp Jalozai, Pakistan — The first thing you notice about this camp is the sprawl. U.N. tarps as far as the eye can see. And with the sun blazing already at 10 in the morning, you can only imagine how hot it gets under those tarps.

This is going to be a long summer at this displacement camp, the largest in Asia. There is a mini-heatwave stifling Pakistan right now. Along with the heat, the homeless here can expect diarrhoea, skin rashes and hours of uncomfortable living.

The U.N. officials we met were pretty straight up with us, they said conditions were quite good in the camp compared to some others around the world. FULL POST

Post by:
Filed under: Pakistan • Taliban
March 30th, 2010
07:38 AM ET

Mullen meets with Helmand governor

KABUL, Afghanistan  - The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, met with the governor of Helmand province in southern Afghanistan Tuesday.

The meeting took place in Marjah, the spokesman for Gov. Gulab Mangal said. No further details on the meeting were available.

The battle-scarred enclave of Marjah was the site of Operation Moshtarak, where U.S and other troops took on Taliban militants in a massive military offensive.

Post by:
Filed under: Marjah • Operation Moshtarak
March 30th, 2010
07:30 AM ET

WH aide: July 2011 will be 'transition point'

Washington  — The Obama administration's announced date to begin to reverse its surge of 30,000 troops into Afghanistan is a "transition point" in the U.S. military presence in the country, a White House national security aide said Monday. FULL POST