WASHINGTON -- The Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, in Twentynine Palms, Calif., is a dusty, windswept installation high in the Mojave Desert. It is the world's largest U.S. Marine base, even though it is more than 150 miles from blue water. Perhaps that is appropriate, because this is the place where Marine units prepare for deployment to Afghanistan, which is more than 250 miles from blue water.
Twentynine Palms -- yes, that's how they spell it -- is also "home" to, among others, the legendary 7th Marine Regiment. Last summer, our Fox News documentary team was embedded with the 2nd Battalion of this celebrated unit in the shadow of the Hindu Kush. This week, I spent time with them as they remembered their fallen comrades and prepared for another deployment. Though they aren't allowed to say where they are heading, it's very likely to be back to Afghanistan.
Late last week, Gen. James Conway, the Marine commandant, suggested that as many as 20,000 U.S. Marines could be committed to the campaign in Afghanistan. On Wednesday, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden went to the Pentagon for a getting-to-know-you gathering with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Nothing that leaked out of this off-the-record meet and greet disputed the proposal that the Marines be phased out of Iraq and sent to battle the Taliban and al-Qaida.
The timing for such a move would seem to be right. This week, millions of Iraqis lined up to dip their fingers in purple ink and cast ballots in the first free and fair provincial elections in the history of Mesopotamia. Not only were half the voters women but also, among the candidates vying for 450 seats in the assemblies of 14 of Iraq's 18 provinces, more than 200 were women. Had radical Islamists -- whether they'd been Sunni or Shiite -- had their way, none of this ever would have occurred. Importantly, it happened only because young American soldiers, sailors, airmen, guardsmen and Marines persevered in Iraq.
Failing to declare this election a major victory in the war being waged against us by radical Islam is a mistake. Mr. Obama could have mentioned the Iraqi elections in his "first formal television interview" -- given Monday to Hisham Melhem of the Saudi-owned, United Arab Emirates-based Al-Arabiya satellite network. Regrettably, he never mentioned it.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.
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