In April of 2008, Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) was well underway across Afghanistan and neighboring regions. The campaign had been launched in response of a coordinated terrorist attack on American soil on 11 September 2001.
The situation in the Afghani territory of Helmand in early April of 2008 was that of a stalemate. It had been in this state since December of the previous year as Coalition and Taliban forces were at a point of impasse. In an attempt to break this stalemate, Marines from the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines launched an assault on the Talbian held town of Garmsir on 28 April. ASADA WOSA (Live Free), as it was then called, would be entered into the historic record as the First Battle of Garmsir.
The province of Helmand is the largest in Afghanistan situated in the South Central portion of the country bordering Pakistan. The province serves as an agricultural hub for the nation, despite being mostly covered by desert, as it is served by two major rivers. As such, it was also a hotbed of insurgent activities during OEF. Garmsir is located just east of the province center on the eastern bank of the Helmand River. The river is situated center between the Margo Desert to the west and the Rigestan Desert to the east.
The operation was a coalition effort with elements from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) participating in the operation. Specifically on the morning of 28 April, members of the British 16th Air Assault Brigade were also present. While most of the Taliban’s forces were driven from the area by the end of July, U.S. Marines remained in Garmsir throughout the Summer. After 130 days of occupation, the town was turned over entirely to British security forces. During the operation, the combined British and American forces had eliminated approximately 400 insurgents in and near the town.
Conflict returned to the Garmsir region three other times between 2009 and 2011. The bulk of consistent combat operations occurred just south of the city. The first operation in Toshtay was part of KHANJAR. Members of the 2/8 Marines successfully drove Taliban insurgents out of Toshtay as a result adding to already mounting gains. The second and more important operation was ROADHOUSE which took place two years after Live Free.
Marines from the 3/1 successfully took over the Taliban fortified town of Safaar. The loss of the stronghold was a major blow to Taliban forces in the region. This coupled with the clearing of insurgents in Durzay in January of 2011 effectively broke all Taliban functions in the area. Most of the operations that continued in the area were widely isolated.
While Garmsir had relatively been secured, sorties and operations within Helmand continue today. With the withdrawal and dissolving of ISAF, the Helmand Province Campaign has been largely taken over by the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to counter Talbian forces in the region.
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