GARMSIR, Helmand Province — The daytime temperatures exceed 135 degrees as the Marines of Alpha Company/1st Battalion/6th Marines (24th Marine Expeditionary Unit) move into a small compound in this farming village some 110 miles south and west of Kandahar. They have just battered a large Taliban force in an escalating two-week fight in which they killed at least 400 of the enemy.
"We took more RPGs here than we did all last year in Ramadi," Captain Sean Dynan, the company commander, tells me. "This was supposed to be a four- to five-day operation to secure a road that turned into a major battle."
The day is beyond hot, and Dynan's Marines are just starting to unwind from the fighting. "We've been out here 46 days, and it's been intense," says First Sergeant Scott Hamm. "The Taliban just kept coming in against us, and we just kept killing them."