The United States is sending a company of M1 Abrams tanks to Afghanistan, the first such deployment of heavy tanks in the nine-year war, the Washington Post reported Friday. Sixteen of the 68-ton tanks are headed for use by the US Marines in south-west Afghanistan, officials told the Post, and will considerably boost the firepower and range of guns against insurgents. "The tanks bring awe, shock and firepower," an unidentified military officer was quoted as saying. "It's pretty significant." The deployment of heavy tanks is seen as part of the overall intensification of the war against Taliban insurgents in recent months in a bid to turn the situation around. The Post reported that US and NATO aircraft used a total of 1,000 bombs and missiles in October, more than in any month since the war began in 2001. According to The Post, the earlier request for tanks were shot down by the Army Gen David D McKiernan, in part because of concern it could remind Afghans of the tank-heavy Soviet occupation in the 1980s. General David Petraeus, Commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, approved the request of tanks from the Marines last month. "Petraeus believes counterinsurgency does not mean just handing out sacks of wheat seed," said a senior officer in Afghanistan. Counterinsurgency "doesn't mean you don't blow up stuff or kill people who need to be killed."