Afghan Journal

Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics

Afghan offensive : When the Marjah “pork chop” turns into a “lamb chop”

February 24, 2010
(U.S. Marines in Marjah. Picture by Goran Tomasevic

(U.S. Marines in Marjah. Picture by Goran Tomasevic

                                                              By Golnar Motevalli

All militaries are notorious for their use of jargon, acronyms and code names to describe people, places and operations. The village of Koru Chareh in the centre of Marjah and a key area in the U.S. Marines’  objective to seize the town in Operation Moshtarak was also given a moniker.

 Koru Chareh is a cluster of unevenly planned low-rise mudbrick dwellings surrounded by small canals. From an aerial map it is shaped like an oblong which tapers at the end. So the Marines called it the “pork chop”.

Officers would radio in suspicious sightings in the “pork chop”,  such as  a bomb-like device  or a suspected   Taliban sniper. About a week later it occurred to them that the reference to a cut of meat from an animal seen as “haraam” or forbidden in one of the world’s most conservative Muslim countries may be inappropriate. So one evening, as some Marines were turning into their sleeping bags while others kept watch on outposts, it was decided that the “lamb chop” should replace the pork chop.

“Well, no one in the States eats lamb” one officer said, to explain why the moniker was chosen in the first place. It is also highly doubtful if any Afghans in Marjah, most of whom had fled the town before the offensive, had any idea that their U.S. allies were using the name at all.


I think they should have called it Objective “Bacon”

Posted by PL | Report as abusive

U.S. military presence in Afghanistan is far worse than a blunder of jargon, although that’s a pretty severe one. It’s just plain wrong from top to bottom. With every passing day it becomes clearer that they had no business being there in the first place and have no clue what they’re doing there now.

It’s time to get out, chop-chop.

Posted by The Bell | Report as abusive

this was the most pointless blogging on the afghan war ever done.

I concor with The Bell.

Posted by sam | Report as abusive

The jargon chop is less severe than the killing of innocent people all over the world by the USA and its allies and i am sure the fanatics in the US want to chop any sane human being who opposes its hegenomy and sychophancy of its supporters.


Ismail, killing innocents is an accident of war as far as US firepower is concerned, though it seems to be the main objective of the AQ/Taliban/Hamas et al…

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

Whoa, whoa, whoa…

I’m a former Marine and I eat lamb! Oh wait, that quote was from an officer who forgot the Marines who work for a living like to eat good meat once in a while. Ha.

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

We are there for the right reasons. We were invited by those that decided to fly a plane into my city, while I was eating Bacon and Eggs. We are not doing enough to win. There is no middle ground. Do you want to live in the 21st century or the 12th century? Bell you don’t give any reason to leave except that is is clear. I say don’t stop until you are at the Arabian Sea. This planet is not big enough to live in two very different times. Winner takes all. Stop trying to be nice and polite, this is a war and Operation Taliban Chop is now in effect.

Yeah this was a pointless blog designed to show how Americans don’t understand Afghan culture. Whatever, remind me in 300 years what tribal culture is again.

Posted by BQ | Report as abusive

Really who cares. My daughter was deployed to Afghanistan and got injured. There are those in the sandbox who hate us just because we are Americians. Then there are those who just hates for coming to their country and trying to help them become more modern. If we had done what Cngressman Charlie Wilson wanted we would have done redevelopment at a cost of 100 million. 911 would have prbably been averted and we would not be wasting Marines and money today. Thank you Mr. President’s (Clinton, Bush and big O)

Posted by Wellington Lemmer | Report as abusive

History will look at the WHOLE McChrystal and when it is realized that he was opportunistically for Petraeus as Cheney was for Bush, we will all have to face the guilt of having put our heroic mom and dad soldiers under the command of self-serving mediocrities with McArthur like delusions. Worst still, our grandchildren will live with the global disdain and debt for America that comes from incompetent generals trying to make these countries control-through-kinetics laboratories in service of oil&gas corporations that only wanted these nations “pacified” so they could run pipelines from neighbors’ rich in energy resources that they today seek to exploit. Petraeus/McChrystal incompetence will make their natural wealth that of their neighbors China and Russia while USA will be left as beggar trying to pay off Petraeus’s and McChrystal’s wonderful adventure playing at COIN gurus.

Posted by DE Teodoru | Report as abusive

For the very IGNORANT man that made such a stuid comment towards Officer’s seriously you are probably a little jealous of Officer’s and at one point that was “Sir” to you.I am an Officer wife and can tell you my Husband is not lazy,he works damn hard for some ignorant fool like you to say something so dumb.Seriously GROW UP…Where are you now in life lol…

Posted by N.Greenlief | Report as abusive

Military presence has been in Afghanistan many years now. Officers and NCO”S alike have hopefully been doing the best that they can with what they have there and what they have to do in order to get home. Thing is; We’re there! Deal with it gripe about support the war or don’t. All those guys there would be better off at home every night with their families. Say what you want, but support the guys that do it cause they feel it’s right, and that do it for the guy next to him when everything hits the fan. Too much turmoil on whether we should be there or not. How bout we focus on the fact that we are there and know that this blog page can be read by soldiers here in the states or in the middle of hell there and focus on giving support. Whether it be officers or NCOs. Take your argument to capitol hill the soldiers are doing their job protecting their(our) country from people that would not give two cents about what you’re worried about know. They’re what makes this country grand caused they can listen to all yall’s BS and still be more than happy to take down the next terrorist that is a threat to you and to Afghani civillians. I say finish what we started. We just need to make better game plans.

Posted by bdog | Report as abusive

As we approach Easter, let us recall why we “sacrifice” a lamb– the most helpless of animals—to eat, just like the Muslims do. Perhaps all those heroic mom&dad soldiers are sacrificial lambs to the careerist generals who just can’t have enough command until the day they retire and move on to a cushy job on the boards of the very military-industrial complex President and general Eisenhower warned us about. Pentagon demands high body count (theirs) and low casualties (ours). Such a trick can only be turned if you deem our soldiers as “bait” for the airpower slaughter of the lambs as Westy did in Vietnam….civilian and enemy. How long can we keep incompetently operating on Afghanistan as we did on Vietnam and Iraq, insisting that by surviving our botched surgeries it has to let us try again and again because our reputation as the great military surgeon-nation is at stake? Osama is dead, most alQaeda are dead or captured and what’s left is hiding out in Pakistan, not Afghanistan, per chief of NSC, Gen. Jones. Leave the Taliban to the Shanghai Accord and let’s bring back mom&dad soldiers to raise a generation of sci/math educated Americans so we don’t end up as pool-side servants for our Chinese bankers.

Posted by DE Teodoru | Report as abusive

By the way does any body know if the current US president did his military service? We all know that George W manged to bypass the system!

Posted by rex minor | Report as abusive

Those who do not know should be aware that it was God’s commandment for the believers not to eat pork! The christians church in the west overcame the restriction by announcing that the God’s commandment was for the jews only. Many american jews ignored it by saying that there was no refrigeration in ancient times and therefore it is no more dangerous to eat the refrigerated swine.

Posted by rex minor | Report as abusive

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