By William E. Welsh Moonlight bathed the dusty narrow path leading into the village of Ganjal shortly before sunrise on September 8, 2009, as nearly 100 soldiers climbed out of more than a dozen vehicles a mile from the seemingly peaceful village. A force of American Army and Marine Corps advisers and the Afghan National Security Force troops and Afghan border police that they were training formed up a mile from the village and headed east towards the modest mud-brick homes of Ganghal. They planned to meet that morning with tribal elders and check the village for weapons. The Americans always took precautions to ensure their safety when visiting remote villages. One of these precautions was to establish observation points on the high ground to monitor the situation and direct fire support. Two groups of soldiers peeled off from the main force and took up positions northwest and southwest of Ganjgal to carry out these security functions. Two Marines had remained in the rear at a rally point where the vehicles were parked with a platoon of Afghan soldiers to serve as a quick-reaction force. The Taliban had begun to reassert itself in Afghanistan as early as 2005. When U.S. President Barack Obama took office on January 20, 2009, he redoubled U.S. efforts directed against the Taliban insurgency. The president and Joint Chiefs of Staff wanted to eliminate Taliban safe havens along the country’s 1,600-mile-long border with Pakistan and step up efforts to train the Afghan soldi


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