The Afghan Region Marines Invaded? America Built It

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 3, 2009 8:30 PM CDT
U.S. Marines sit with Afghani residents of the village of Noghara in the Nawa district in Afghanistan's Helmand province Friday July 3, 2009.   (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
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(Newser) – The 4,000 US Marines who invaded the Helmand Province in Afghanistan this week might feel at home—the US helped build it, the Christian Science Monitor reports. In a Cold War race against the Soviets, Washington lavished more than $110 million on irrigating land, constructing schools, and building the capital city of Lashkar Gah. But Taliban insurgents eventually claimed the land from Afghanistan's government.

"It was a huge influx of people who came in there for the land settlement," says Richard Scott, an expert on the project. Scott helped villagers repair war-damaged irrigation systems there until 2005, when militants killed a truckload of Afghan engineers. Until then, he says, local goodwill for the American enterprise was strong. Now he fears that rising civilian casualties have turned local support to anger.