From Reuters: Helmand is Afghanistan’s largest province, about 60,000 sq km (23,000 miles), making it slightly smaller than the Republic of Ireland. The U.S. Marines join some 9,000 British troops who have been working under Taskforce Helmand since 2006 and are based near the provincial capital, Lashkar Gah.
Canadian, Dutch and other NATO troops have been fighting alongside the British troops in Helmand but U.S. military commanders have described the combat situation in the past year as a stalemate. Existing force levels have not been able to cope with the size and difficulty of the terrain, which includes wide deserts in the south and mountains in the north. In May, the deputy commander of NATO-led forces in the south warned of “a bloody summer ahead.”