The Marine Corps has begun a shift in its main focus in southern Afghanistan, transitioning from combat roles to providing more assistance to Afghan security forces as they take the lead, according to Marine Corps Times, which quoted Maj. Gen. Charles Gurganus about the shift.
Marines make up a large portion of the targeted 23,000 troops the U.S. plans to pull out of Afghanistan by October, the Times reported. Currently, Regional Command-Southwest has about 15,800 Marines, down from 17,000 two months ago. Gurganus is teh commander of I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) and Regional Command Southwest.
The decrease in the number of U.S. forces in RC-Southwest, which includes Helmand province, is supposed to mirror the increase in the number of Afghan security forces assigned to the region. There are now more than 16,000 Afghan soldiers in Helmand and Nimroz provinces, and an additional 8,500 Afghan police from several organizations, the Times reported in an article about the Marine corps' shift in mission focus in Afghanistan.
Source: Marine Corps Times