Pendleton General: Afghans taking lead in Taliban fight

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SAN DIEGO – MarinesCombatAs Marines return to Camp Pendleton from Afghanistan, fighting continues in volatile Helmand province, but the responsibility for battling the Taliban has now shifted to Afghan forces, the top U.S. general in the region told San Diego reporters Wednesday.

“They’re sticking with the fight,” Marine Maj. Gen. Mark Gurganus said of the Afghan army and police during a teleconference with reporters at Camp Pendleton. The move to put Afghans in the lead represents a “role-reversal” for the Marines, he said.

Still, the fighting “won’t end with a surrender,” Gurganus said. “It’s going to end in some sort of talking, some sort of negotiation.”

Of the 7,000 Marines in Afghanistan, about 4,000 are from Camp Pendleton. At the height of the U.S. “surge” in late 2011 into Helmand province, long a Taliban stronghold, there were about 21,000 Marines, drawn from several bases.