If the Dari translation for “Operation Moshtarak” is “together,” the new translation this week is: “Where’s my Map Quest?”
First described by the Marines as a city of 80,000, news reports eventually ballooned that number to 125,000 during the supposedly milestone battle of Marjah.
Looking at the pictures over the multi-week offensive, it did seem the backgrounds — characteristic of the shot above, and as we see here and here — looked a little sparse. What now comes to light by way of independent reporter Gareth Porter, however , is that — except for some scattered buildings — Marjah is a mirage.
(posted and linked photo: Brennan Linsley/AP. caption: Green smoke marks the landing zone as seen through the plexiglass window of a quickly-descending U.S. Army Task Force Pegasus helicopter on a mission to evacuate a wounded U.S. Marine, in Marjah, Helmand province, Afghanistan, Tuesday March 2, 2010. The “chase” or security helicopter circles in the background. Pegasus crews provide the fast medical evacuation of seriously wounded combatants and civilians.)