23,000 square miles
Size of Helmand Province in Southern Afghanistan. Population: more than 1 million. See map.
Number of U.S. Marines inserted across Helmand in early July '09 as part of Operation Strike of the Sword offensive.
40 to 50
Number of Marines in Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Regiment at Combat Outpost Sharp at any given time. The rest of the company -- there are roughly 120-150 Marines in a company -- is pushed out to other positions, some very close by. The Marines frequently rotate out and back to COP Sharp, their main base. (The 2/8 is known as "America's Battalion.")
The exact number of Taliban forces in the region. But Mian Poshteh, the Marines' southernmost outpost and where Echo Company is based, is in the heart of Taliban territory and 100 miles from Pakistan border.
Distance an Echo Company patrol can cover going out from base (another 4 kilometers returning), given the heat and load they carry.
The word to describe Afghan police or army presence alongside the Marines. The Afghans are attached to the Marines so they can be mentored, trained.
Number of troops from British Task Force who also are in Helmand Province (outside Lashkar Gah).
6 to 7 months
Echo Company's scheduled deployment in Helmand Province. They arrived in May/June and will rotate with another infantry battalion starting in November '09.
14 Killed in Action and 75 Wounded In Action
The toll to date (10/1/09) for the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines deployed in Afghanistan.