With a mixture of brawn and brains, Marine special operators continue to push their way into villages in Afghanistan, setting up shop alongside Afghan special forces to train those living there to defend their own turf from the Taliban.
The concept, known as village stability operations, also shapes the operations of Navy SEAL and U.S. Army Special Forces teams. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command conducts VSO in Helmand province and several provinces in western Afghanistan, training Afghan Local Police.
Conducting VSO is a “varsity-level” skill requiring special operators to think independently while working in small teams that must protect themselves from outside attacks, said Maj. Gen. Paul Lefebvre, who retired as MARSOC’s commander Aug. 24. The villages — or “platforms,” as operators call them — are selected based on their strategic value and using intelligence gathered for months.