Friday, March 4, 2011

The Battle for Marjah

I take HBO when I can get it for free and then shut it down when I have to pay for it because I hate Bill Maher. I know I’m not forced to watch Bill Maher but I don’t like supporting anyone financially who would give him a platform. Neither Comcast nor Verizon seem to catch onto the game. But I digress.

The Battle for Marjah” follows a Marine rifle company (Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment) commanded by Captain Ryan Sparks. I commanded a rifle company for more than two years – Sparks is a better man than me.

Marjah was a town of about 80,000 Afghanis and it was the center of power for the Taliban. You probably have to be a Marine to understand why it made sense to take just over 200 Marines commanded by Sparks and drop them into the center of that mess. While the documentary mentions actions by two other rifle companies – Sparks and his warriors were put right in the middle of the bad guys – they were surrounded. We have seen reports before that the Taliban was astounded whenever they encountered Marines. “We shoot at them and they RUN AT US!” Was a frequently reported complaint picked up by a variety of intelligence sources. Pretty different than beating up their wives and tormenting civilians I guess.

It's pretty amazing what these modern Marines are doing. I was pretty frustrated in some ways. Bravo company asked for 40 air strikes a day while trying to take the town. But they either were refused or they took so long to get approved that they were aborted. They had a sequence of the Forward Air Controller (FAC) trying to get an air strike approved. Either he knew he was on camera or he doesn't know how to swear. Air strikes are a beautiful thing. Not only do they provide an incredibly accurate and very large explosion – a rifle company doesn’t have to carry the load to the battle. When you hear someone saying that the brass is “making us fight with one hand tied behind our backs.” Air strikes are a big one. We have planes, the Taliban don’t. Watching an F/A-18 drop a 500 pound bomb is a thing of beauty.

They interviewed a Lance Corporal who had been shot right in the helmet by a sniper.  No doubt he said a prayer for the guy who invented kevlar. It went through the helmet and was deflected by part of the buckle. I’ll bet you once he got his heart rate down, he was right back in the fight. That’s what Marines do.

I don’t advocate supporting HBO but maybe you can get your liberal brother-in-law to DVR “The Battle for Marjah” for you so you can watch without remorse. Look and see what we are asking these young men and women to do. I support the war in Afghanistan, but I want to win. In fact I want to win so decisively that ten generations from now bad guys shudder when they even think of screwing with us.

I was always in awe of Marines even when I was one. I think that today’s Marines are better than we were. They swear about the same amount though.

The U.S. Marine Corps Story     


  1. Good to know some traditions live on. Swearing gives the proper inflection to the urgency of the situation.

    I have the movie on my Netflix list (release unknown). BTW, Maher is a certifiable A-hole (you already knew that).

    We owe a lot to these new Marines. Personally, I would prefer that we turn the stan countries into a glowing parking lot. Ditto with the whole ME, Israel excluded. 10 years of freedom and Iraq still can't get their act together and some have the nerve to long for the good ol days under Saddam. You can't fix stupid.

  2. Shortly after 9/11, I had the privilege of drinking with some boot ass Marines. When a waitress commented that she couldn't believe that these kids were going to avenge America, I was compelled to tell her that yes, they will. And when it comes right down to it, every swinging dick WILL make Chesty proud, because these guys ARE Marines. And you really can't understand it unless you've been one.

    As for fixing stupid, there are ways. Air strikes and dumb bullets are thebest cures, but glowing red glass is another. But our fearless leaders will not let us kill them all.

  3. HNox and #10 - when you watch it - see if you ever see an M-16 other than the M-4 carbine version. Not sure where I fall out on that.