God bless the American fighting man.
Via Long War Journal:
Bing West files a report from his time embedded with Third Platoon of Kilo Company, Fifth Marine Regiment, in Sangin. His March dispatch adds another anecdote about the issue I raised in January: that the US Marines seem more aggressive than their predecessors in the volatile district, and Helmand province as a whole, and the Taliban react to this difference accordingly [emphasis mine]:
I had embedded with the platoon once before, in January, so the routine was familiar. A point man on a patrol detects one or more IEDs, and then a Taliban gang in civilian clothes usually opens fire. Marine snipers and machine-gunners shoot back, while a squad maneuvers around the flank, forcing the enemy to retreat. . . .
Since September, the Third Platoon has shot somewhere between 125 and 208 Taliban — as many as one enemy killed per patrol. That rate may not seem high, but the cumulative effect has been crushing. Marine tactics, like Ohio State football, have the subtle inevitability of a steamroller. “We got a radio intercept yesterday,” Lt. Garcia said. “Some Talib leaders in Pakistan were chewing out the local fighters for quitting. The locals yelled back, ‘Marines run toward our bullets.'”
West’s football metaphor and anecdote more efficiently echo my assessment, which was based on my embed in northern Helmand last summer:
But I can attest that the story of USMC entry into northern Helmand has been invariably, incrementally the same: Wherever the Marines took over for the British, the Taliban would initially engage them in stand-up fights, attacking with small arms fire and traditional ambushes; but after a period of about three to six weeks, the insurgents alter their tactics to rely heavily on IEDs and “shoot and scoot” small arms attacks at a distance.