From Fox News:
U.S. Marines and Afghan security forces began moving into the nation's southern Helmand province Wednesday to clear out the Taliban and secure locals from insurgent threats.
Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson said the operation is the largest and fastest-moving so far in the war's newest phase.
The Pentagon says nearly 4,000 Marines and sailors and about 650 Afghan soldiers and police led the mission. U.S. Army and Marines also added air support.
British forces last week led similar missions to fight and clear out insurgents in Helmand and Kandahar provinces.
About 4,000 Americans, mostly from the Marines, and 650 Afghan soldiers and police launched Operation Khanjar -- "strike of the sword" -- in the Helmand River valley, the U.S. command in Kabul announced.
The push is the largest since the Pentagon began moving additional troops into the conflict this year, and it follows a British-led operation launched last week in the same region, the Marines said.
It is also the first big move since U.S. Gen. Stanley McChrystal took over as the allied commander in Afghanistan in mid-June.
In Washington, a senior defense official said the size and scope of the new operation are "very significant."
"It's not common for forces to operate at the brigade level," the official said. "In fact, they often only conduct missions at the platoon level. And they're going into the most troubled area of Afghanistan."
Helmand Province, where much of the fighting is taking place, has been a hotbed of Taliban violence in recent months. At least 25 U.S. and British troops have been killed there in 2009.
The defense official said the operation is a "tangible indication" of the new approach that McChrystal -- a former chief of the Pentagon's special operations command -- is bringing to the nearly eight-year war.
God Bless America and may He be with the boys right now.
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