War in Afghanistan:

Operation Khanajar/Strike of the Sword

(July 2009)

Marines in Southern Afghanistan

Also see: Medals of Honor Awarded for the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan--Controversy swirls over small number of Medals of Honor awarded in current wars.-*NEW*

War in Afghanistan:

Operation Khanajar/Strike of the Sword

(July 2009-Present)


Operation Khanjar (also known by the English name, Operation Strike of the Sword ) is an American-led military offensive against the Taliban in Helmand province in southern Afghanistan. Approximately 4,000 Marines from the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade along with 650 Afghan Army soldiers are taking part in the offensive. The operation began when the U.S.and Afghan forces entered the Helmand river valley in the early morning of July 2, 2009. This operation is the largest Marine Corps-led operation since the Vietnam War.

Helmand Province's main population area is along the Helmand River Valley. The Taliban has grown increasingly powerful there, and the fairly small British contingent in the area has had difficulty establishing security there. This is the first major allied offensive in Afghanistan since President Obama's new war policy was announced earlier in 2009. The Marines plan on establishing a presence in Helmand and working with local leaders to increase security and to protect the civilian population from the Taliban.


The Marines were dropped by helicopter at after midnight, July 2 behind the Taliban lines, striking them from the rear. The first shots of the operation were fired around 06:15 a.m. when a Marine unit came under Taliban small-arms fire. Cobra attack helicopters were called in and attacked the Taliban with strafing runs at the tree line from where the fire was coming from. During daylight the Marines made contact with a group of about 20 militants holed up in a mud-brick compound. The advancing troops refrained from using attack aircraft to bomb the compound fearing there could be civilians inside and the militants managed to escape. By the end of the first day a Marine battalion had captured the Khanashin District of the province. The Marines entered the capital of the district in a convoy of 70 heavily armoured vehicles, encountering no resistance. Another Marine battalion entered Nawa, another district south of Lashkar Gah.

As the Marines advanced throughout Helmand, they generally encountered little resistance, as the Taliban fell back on classic guerrilla tactics and avoided a fight against superior forces. A number of Marines and British troops died due to an increase in improvised explosive devices (IEDs), but the Taliban did not choose to stand and fight in most places. On August 11, 2009 , Marine forces attacked the Taliban-held town of Dahaneh in southern Afghanistan.


 Links and Resources for Operation Khanajar/Strike of the Sword:

Marines assault Taliban town in Afghanistan: Coalition deaths spike from roadside and suicide bombs--MSNBC, August 11, 2009

Obama Turns Focus to War in Afghanistan: A new offensive in the Helmand province is the first test of a new counterinsurgency strategy--U.S. News and World Report, July 2, 2009

U.S. launches 'major operation' in Afghanistan --CNN, July 2, 2009

Marines Move Out on New Mission --Washington Post, July 2, 2009

U.S. Marines Try to Retake Afghan Valley From Taliban --New York Times, July 2, 2009

Operation Strike of the Sword --Wikipedia Article