Date of Award

Spring 2020

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair

Dr. Andrew Wiest

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Dr. Heather Stur

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Dr. Brian LaPierre

Committee Member 3 School



In the years following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, American troops contended with insurgent forces resistant to conventional tactics. General David Petraeus, along with other military experts, addressed the need for new strategies with the publication of Warfighting Publication 3-33.5 (3-33.5) in 2006. The manual laid out methods by which American troops should quell insurgent threats in Iraq and Afghanistan. This thesis is concerned with how the Marine Corps enacted the policies of 3-33.5 in Helmand Province between 2010 and 2012.

The tenants of this new manual were tested in the years following President Barak Obama’s commitment of 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan in 2009. Helmand Province was under the combat control of the Marines from 2010 to 2014, and during the first two years, operations near the town of Marjah and the district of Sangin closely followed principles laid out in 3-33.5. Although the withdrawal of American units in 2014 did not bode well for the Afghan National Army (ANA) in Helmand, the period in question proved the ability of the Marine Corps to effectively carry out doctrinal principles. Through an examination of command chronologies and oral history interviews, this thesis shows the process in which official counterinsurgency policy was put into action in the field.