US Marines and Afghan troops today launched the first offensive since President Obama announced an American troop surge, striking against Taliban communications and supply lines in a southern insurgent stronghold. In all, about 1,000 Marines as well as Afghan troops were taking part in the operation in Helmand provvince, known as "Cobra's Anger," designed to disrupt supply lines providing explosives for IEDs.
Hundreds of troops were dropped by helicopter and MV-22 Osprey aircraft behind Taliban lines in the northern end of the Now Zad Valley, scene of heavy fighting last summer. An official says it was the first use of Ospreys, which combine features of helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, in an offensive involving units larger than platoons. A second, larger force pushed northward from the Marines' Forward Operating Base in the town of Now Zad.