Battle of Garmsir

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Battle of Garmsir
Part of the War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
Garmsir 1 6 006.jpg
US Marines with Bravo 1/6, 24th MEU in Garmsir, Afghanistan, May 2008
DateApril - 8 September 2008[1]
2009 - 2011
Helmand province in Afghanistan
Result 2008 stalemate, 2009 unclear[1]
United States United States,
United Kingdom United Kingdom,
Estonia Estonia,
Afghanistan Afghan National Army
Afghanistan Taliban insurgents
Commanders and leaders
LtCol Tony Henderson

Naeem Baraikh, shadow governor

Maulavi Ubaidurrahman Nurzai
Approx. 800 Marines Unknown

The Battle of Garmsir (also Garmser) was a battle between U.S. Marines and other ISAF coalition forces, and Taliban insurgents in Garmsir, southern Afghanistan. It was part of the ongoing Helmand Province campaign and took place primarily between 2007-2011.


By the end of December 2007, the situation on the ground reached a stalemate. A de facto border was established east of Garmsir along the banks of the Helmand River that divided British-held from Taliban-held territory. The British were outnumbered by the larger Taliban force which was receiving reinforcements from Pakistan. However, the British had jets and heavy artillery on their side. Both forces fought in the following months for mere yards of territory.[2]

In early 2008, the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, under the command of Col. Peter Petronzio, arrived to reinforce the ISAF's fight.[1] In April 2008, Col. Petronzio sent a battalion of U.S. Marines to Garmsir.

The Battle: Operation Asada Wosa (Live Free)[edit]

1st Battalion, 6th Marines, the battalion landing team for the 24th MEU along with elements from 2nd Reconnaissance Bn started their combat operations with an attack on the Taliban-held town of Garmsir on 28 April. The operation was carried out in conjunction with British troops of the 16 Air Assault Brigade.[3] Taliban forces withdrew from the town as a result of the assault and took up a position further south.[4]

After seizing Garmsir, the Marines pushed further south into an area where the insurgents had built bunkers and tunnels capable of withstanding coalition airstrikes.[5] They ran into stiff resistance and the operation, expected to take a few days, lasted more than a month to complete. This alerted the ISAF commander that the town was important to the insurgents, so he ordered the Marines to remain in the area, rather than clear the town and leave. He was also concerned that the Taliban would emerge after the Marines left, falsely claiming that they had run ISAF forces off. With the original mission changed, the Marines transitioned from combat operations to civil operations. The 24th MEU commander Colonel Peter Petronzio focused on protecting the local Afghans as they began to return to their homes after having been displaced by the Taliban.[1] The Marines also continued their combat operations in the area, killing more than 400 insurgents between April and July 2008, according to governor Gulab Mangal.[6]


On 8 September 2008, the 24th MEU returned control of Garmsir to British forces, after having operated in the area for approximately 130 days. The town was deemed safe and more stable.[1]

Operation Khanjar[edit]

On 18 June 2009, Marines from 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines (2/8), as part of the northern push of Operation Khanjar, entered Garmsir Province.[7]

By 5 July, elements of 2/8 were engaged in heavy fighting at Toshtay, 16 miles south of Garmsir.[8] After protracted fighting, the Marines overcame much of the Taliban resistance and began to set up additional patrol bases in Garmsir as part of the Clear-Hold-Build strategy designed to drive the Taliban south and continue Marine territorial gains.[9]

Operation Roadhouse[edit]

On 14 April 2010, Marines from 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines (3/1) deployed to Garmsir District with the mission to deny the enemy freedom of movement through combat and counterinsurgency operations. The year of 2010 was marked as the deadliest year of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in which the Marines of 3/1 saw some of the heaviest of fighting. Platoons from Kilo Company (3/1's elite air assault Marines) were utilized specifically during operations to raid and attack Taliban fighters in intense battles such as Operation Master Blaster.

During their deployment, they established several new patrol bases in the southern most parts of Garmsir, as well as fought building by building in intense fighting to clear the heavily fortified and IED filled Taliban stronghold of Safaar Bazaar. [10] 3/1 was recognized by the Regimental Commander as one of the most aggressive battalions in the Marine Corps. Before the arrival of 3/1, no units ventured as far south into Helmand province’s village of Safaar.

Col. Randall P. Newman, the commanding officer of RCT-7, described that battle of Safaar Bazaar as "achieving the last tactical objective.” A success that was used to map follow on victories such as Marjah, Nowzad, and Musa Qala.

Operation Godfather[edit]

On 14 January 2011 Marines from 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines and Afghan National Army soldiers began clearing Durzay, one of the last remaining Taliban strongholds in the Garmsir District.[11] Marines also crossed over to the western banks of the Helmand River and established positions to deny the Taliban the freedom of movement that had previously allowed them to continue transporting weapons and supplies from Pakistan despite the increased Marine presence in Garmsir. Marines encountered less resistance than expected and Operation Godfather marked the end of major fighting in the Battle for Garmsir, although the Taliban continued to fight after the Operation's conclusion using guerrilla tactics and IED emplacement.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "24th MEU returns a safer, more stable Garmsir to British Army". II MEF. 10 September 2008. Archived from the original on 20 September 2008. Retrieved 4 July 2009.
  2. ^ "British Troops, Taliban In a Tug of War Over Afghan Province". Washington Post. 30 March 2008. Retrieved 30 March 2008.
  3. ^ British troops help US Marines tackle the Taliban in Garmsir - UK MoD 7 May 08 Archived 9 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Associated Press. "Marines storm Afghan town held by Taliban". Retrieved 9 October 2008.
  5. ^ Coghlan, Tom (30 April 2008). "Marines launch attack on Taliban in Helmand". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 8 October 2008.
  6. ^ "More than 400 Afghan insurgents killed by U.S. marines: commander". CBC News. 9 July 2008. Retrieved 8 October 2008.
  7. ^ Chandrasekran, Rajiv (4 July 2009). "Insurgents Step Up Attacks on Marines". Washington Post. Retrieved 4 July 2009.
  8. ^ Farmer, Ben (5 July 2009). "US Marines face a 'hell of a fight' in Helmand". UK Telegraph. Retrieved 5 July 2009.
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 12 December 2013. Retrieved 2013-12-07.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ "Regimental Combat Team 7 concludes historic deployment in Helmand prov". I Marine Expeditionary Force. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  11. ^ Lim, Alex (19 January 2011). "2/1 clears Durzay in Operation Godfather". DVIDS. Retrieved 12 December 2013.
  12. ^ Boak, Josh (18 January 2011). "Marines of Operation Godfather see stark improvement in deadly Helmand province". The Washington Post. Retrieved 7 December 2013.