Kabul, Aug.28 (ANI): American Marines deployed in war-torn Afghanistan have said that they are prepared for the long haul, and determined to neutralise the Taliban's aggressive designs.
Lance Corporal Kevin Oratowski, who had briefed three visiting generals, died recently, a victim of a Taliban roadside bomb. But before he died, he is reported to have said: "We're ready to go."
According to the Los Angeles Times, a year since the U.S. troop build-up in Afghanistan began with battalions of Marines descending on the Helmand River Valley, optimism about a quick defeat of the insurgents after early small-scale routs has given way to more sober assessments.
Top Marine commanders warn that it could take as long as five years to defeat the Taliban and help the Afghan government establish a credible presence.
Two battalions of Marines are still assigned to protect Marja, but Taliban fighters spread messages of terror at night and plant bombs, killing both Marines and villagers.
Marine Commandant General James Conway has told Marines of all ranks in a series of meetings that he expects themto be here until 2014 or 2015.
Be prepared for a second or third tour, he said.
"We're still going to have to convince these people who are fighting us that we are the strongest tribe," Conway told several hundred Marines just minutes after the C-130 with Oratowski's casket departed.
Conway and other senior officers say they remain confident of ultimate victory.
It is a confidence born of the Marines' experience in Iraq's Anbar province, which in 2006 was branded as a lost cause by a Marine intelligence report, but within two years was considered an example of the U.S. ability to defeat a ruthless insurgency.
"You can either lose fast or win slow in Afghanistan," the L.A. Times quotes Colonel Randy Newman, commander of the Regional Combat Team Seven, as saying.
He adds: "This country can't sustain 'fast.' It's all about relationships, and that takes time." (ANI)