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Marines in quagmire dealing poppy fields.

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posted on May, 6 2008 @ 02:04 PM

GARMSER, Afghanistan - The Marines of Bravo Company's 1st Platoon sleep beside a grove of poppies. Troops in the 2nd Platoon playfully swat at the heavy opium bulbs while walking through the fields. Afghan laborers scraping the plant's gooey resin smile and wave.

Last week, the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit moved into southern Helmand province, the world's largest opium poppy-growing region, and now find themselves surrounded by green fields of the illegal plants that produce the main ingredient of heroin.

The Taliban, whose fighters are exchanging daily fire with the Marines in Garmser, derives up to $100 million a year from the poppy harvest by taxing farmers and charging safe passage fees — money that will buy weapons for use against U.S., NATO and Afghan troops.

Yet the Marines are not destroying the plants. In fact, they are reassuring villagers the poppies won't be touched. American commanders say the Marines would only alienate people and drive them to take up arms if they eliminated the impoverished Afghans' only source of income.

Many Marines in the field are scratching their heads over the situation.

"It's kind of weird. We're coming over here to fight the Taliban. We see this. We know it's bad. But at the same time we know it's the only way locals can make money," said 1st Lt. Adam Lynch, 27, of Barnstable, Mass.

The Marines' battalion commander, Lt. Col. Anthony Henderson, said in an interview Tuesday that the poppy crop "will come and go" and that his troops can't focus on it when Taliban fighters around Garmser are "terrorizing the people."

Destroy the fields and we anger the locals. Ignore it and the Taliban has the funds to buy equipment and feed their men. What do we do about it? Alternatives for Afghan farmers to grow another type of crop? Or easier said than done.

posted on May, 6 2008 @ 05:05 PM
I think at this time it's a matter of choosing the right battle at the right time.

It is a paradox, but it would seem to me that eradicating the Taliban is more important than changing a culture.

Give the people a more safe environment and then we can work on eliminating the poppy industry, which would probably be best handled by Afghanis with US support.

posted on May, 6 2008 @ 09:09 PM
reply to post by GradyPhilpott

I agree with you. Why not shuttle the narcotics to a legal company and then everything would be solved so far as the villagers go?

We could create a legal industry for the area. I am sure that if we eartagged some money toward this everyone would be a little bit richer.

[edit on 6-5-2008 by whiteraven]

[edit on 6-5-2008 by whiteraven]

posted on May, 6 2008 @ 09:23 PM
Interesting article deltaboy thanks for posting it . Indeed the correct call gas been made by not driving the locals into the hands of the enemy it is more likely that reconstruction and munitions(SP?) clearing will be able to take place. The locals grow Poppy's because aside from the price they can get it would very difficult if not impossible for them to get other products to the market place.

Its nice to see the US military finally getting a grip on counter insurgency warfare .

posted on May, 8 2008 @ 12:04 PM
reply to post by xpert11

The Brits have been doing that since they got into Afghanistan. I've seen countless shows on TV that follow them around, and you can always see a field of poppies somewhere in every shot outside an FOB/compound/town.

The easiest way to fix this problem is for the occupying forces to simply buy it from them. They can either use it to create methodone or other opioids (like codeine, morphine, etc.), or just destroy it. Depending on who the farmers are more happy with at the time of sale determines where that money goes. If the farmers can be kept safe, and the crops bought by the US/UK/Germans/Aussies/Danes/Martians/whatever, the money will go back into the non-Taliban Afghanistan. If they're all pissed off with us, you can bet the money will go to the Taliban.


posted on May, 8 2008 @ 12:26 PM
there is an easy solution to this. however, I believe the US government does not want to upset the drug trade around the world. they make too much money in it.

but, if the enemy derives money from the farmers by way of safe passage, then create a safe passage for distribution. take away the extra cost of paying safe passage. and then introduce less expensive crops to be grown.

one of the reasons farmers grow poppies, is because the high price paid for it. consider the price of a pound of poppies compared to a pound of corn.

of course when you take away the source income of the enemy, they would retaliate by destroying the fields. then you would have marines protecting poppy fields, so as not to disrupt the local source of income.

ironic. marines in Afghanistan protect poppies, while marines in Columbia destroy them.

I guess its not an easy answer after all.....

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