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The Korangal Valley (or Korengal Valley, or Garangal Valley) in northeastern Afghanistan is located south of the Pech River in the Pech District of Kunar Province. To the east is Asadabad, capital of Kunar Province, to the west is the Chapa Dara District, and to the south is the Chawkay District (Diwagal Valley). In the south east there is Narang wa Badil District (Badeil Valley), and in the south west Nurgal District (Mazar Valley), which includes Shumast Aret.
In December 2004, 3rd Battalion 3rd Marines conducted Operation CORNHUSKERS, one of several major clearing operations by the battalion in the Korangal. Firebase Phoenix (later called Firebase Vimoto) was established in the village of Babeyal to act as a security buffer between the villagers and active anti-coalition militia (ACM) fighters in the valley. In the fall of 2005, the US Marines of 2/3 Echo Company conducted a 28-day foot patrol beginning at the backside of the valley, not only making them the furthest occupying force in that area to date but also claiming the longest completed foot patrol since Vietnam. Later Ed Darack wrote the book Victory Point, documenting two operations that the 2nd Battalion 3rd Marines conducted in the area, including the Korangal Valley, Operation Red Wings, and Operation Whalers. Firebase Phoenix was established in the spring of 2007 by 2nd Platoon, A Company, 1-32d Infantry, 10th Mountain Division, while fighting waged in the villages and mountains. Medical aid was brought to the surrounding villages.
The Korangal Outpost was established at an abandoned lumber yard in April 2006 by Task Force Lava of 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines and subsequently transferred to Alpha Company, 1-32 Infantry, 10th Mountain Division. During 2007 and 2008, the valley was the scene of fierce fighting between ISAF's Eastern Command consisting mostly of US forces and insurgents in Afghanistan —referred to as "Anti-Afghanistan Forces" (AAF) or "Anti-Coalition Militia" (ACM)— notably the Taliban.
After years of sustained fighting and casualties with little evident progress, the US military closed Korangal Outpost on April 14, 2010, after which the valley reverted to Taliban control, but later re-opened it in June 2011 due to the growing problems with the AAF and ACM. Forty-two American service men died fighting in the Korangal and hundreds were wounded, primarily between 2006 and 2009. Many Afghan soldiers died there as well. The valley has been dubbed "The Valley of Death" by American forces.
Professional British photographer Tim Hetherington won the World Press Photo award for 2007 with a shot he took while reporting on the war in Korangal valley for Vanity Fair magazine in January 2008. Sebastian Junger's (2010) book War, and the subsequent film Restrepo, document his experiences while embedded with a US Army company manning the small Observation Post Restrepo, named for a fallen comrade, in the Korangal valley.
Garangal, Korengal, Kurangal, Korangal کړنګل کوړنګل کوړينګل
The valley includes more than a dozen villages:
|Ali Abad, Kunar (Elabat)|
|Hendarok lower, Kunar|
|Hendarok upper, Kunar|
|Yakha China, Kunar|
|Old Korangal, Kunar|
Including a few villages of Qalai-Gal-Valley
The valley has six major tribes:
The Korangalies are Pashai. Their native language is Pashayi but many are fluent in Pashto because the Safi tribe, a Pashtun people, live around them and they have some integration with this tribe.
The valley has rocky mountains with limited agricultural land. The Korangal valley is lushly forested with pine trees. Much of the valley's income is due to legal and illegal forestry and timber sales. In 2006, U.S. military and the government of Afghanistan reclaimed the Lumber Yard and established the first government presence in the valley since the 1980s. The Afghan government is working to find ways to boost the economy of the region so that illegal timbering come to an end. In the meantime, the local people of Kunar province are being trained to plant new trees to prevent deforestation.
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