The future of Marjah, after the invasion and occupation

Summary:  We occupy Marjah amidst promises to rebuild and bring good government. Just as we did in Fallujah — which was in fact a simple punitive strike. Typical counter-insurgency tactics, as practiced for millenia. We’ll see if Marjah is different.  It’s a test-case.  Is COIN real, or just a cover for variations on the trinity of US counter-insurgency methods since WWII:

  • Popular front militia (now called “tribes”)
  • Massive firepower on civilians and their property
  • Sweep and destroy missions

Whatever our invasion does to Marjah, good government will result.  That’s the committment the American government has made.  Just as we did in the November 2004  invasion and occupation of Fallujah:  Operation Phantom Fury.  From “In Falluja’s Ruins, Big Plans and a Risk of Chaos“, New York Times, 1 December 2004.

Within 2 or 3 months, Marine officials say, bigger projects will be set in motion: a new $35 million wastewater treatment plant, four new school buildings, several new health clinics. Badly damaged homes will be bulldozed and rebuilt, or owners will be compensated. To help revive the city’s economy, the Marines will ask all returning residents with relevant skills to take a job in the reconstruction projects.

In short, the Marines envision a huge effort of social and physical engineering, all intended to transform a bastion of militant anti-Americanism into a benevolent and functional metropolis. There are even plans to build new housing projects on the city’s outskirts while the central areas are being rebuilt. “The best place to bring a model town into place is Fallujah,” Colonel Ballard said.

In fact Phantom Fury was an old fashioned punitive strike, designed to break the will of the Sunni Arab insurgents.  We wrecked Fallujah and dispersed most of its inhabitants as refugees — but the insurgency continued for another 3 years.  “More than half of Fallujah’s 39,000 homes were damaged, and about 10,000 of those were destroyed or left structurally unsound to live in” (Washington Post).

The committment to rebuild was moonshine, with articles during the next 5 years about the fits and starts of rebuilding.

Is this the future of Marjah?

Other valuable articles about the Marjah operation

  1. The Men Who Would Govern Marjah“, William S. McCallister (Major, US Army, retired), Small Wars Journal, 20 February 2010
  2. Fixing What’s Wrong in Washington… in Afghanistan“, Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch, 21 February 2010

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3 thoughts on “The future of Marjah, after the invasion and occupation”

  1. The bigger question here is who gives a damn.
    Ever since 911 I feel like been transferred into a what if universe gamed by the US military. Its an unpleasant place where nothing works and everything cost a lot of money.

  2. I would consider this report well worth re-examination: “Provincial Development Plan, Helmand“, part of the National Area-Based Development Programme (NABDP), which is one of the 6 National Priority Programs and Projects of the Afghanistan Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and development (MRRD). {the document is undated}

  3. @1, “Its an unpleasant place where nothing works and everything cost a lot of money.”

    Pretty much how I feel. I couldn’t care less which tribe controls some third-world shithole version of Barstow . . . get the hell out of there, quit spending my cash on these ridiculous boondoggles, quit vaporizing women and children like it’s a goddamn video game — take your hoo-rahs, your COIN powerpoint presentations, your Jigger-Rock Snatchem, your Eight-Nozzled Elephant-Toted Boom Blitz, and your laser-guided force-multiplied network-centric fiscal destruction gizmos with you. And don’t come back now, ya hear?

    Take all your overgrown infants away somewhere
    And build them a home, a little place of their own.
    The Fletcher Memorial Home for Incurable Tyrants and Kings.

    They can appear to themselves every day
    On closed circuit T.V.
    To make sure they’re still real.
    It’s the only connection they feel.

    . . .

    Did they expect us to treat them with any respect?
    They can polish their medals and sharpen their smiles,
    And amuse themselves playing games for awhile.
    Boom boom, bang bang, lie down you’re dead.

    Safe in the permanent gaze of a cold glass eye
    their favourite toy
    They’ll be good girls and boys
    In the Fletcher Memorial Home for colonial Wasters of life and limb.

    Pink Floyd, “The Fletcher Memorial Home,” The Final Cut, 1982

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