2/8 Marines Conduct Key Security Operation in Helmand
Dispatches from the Front:
GARMSIR DISTRICT, Helmand Province, Afghanistan, Aug. 4, 2009 -- About 40 soldiers with the Afghan national army and two squads from Company F, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 3, executed a "cordon and knock" operation July 28 here.
The main focus of this operation was to re-establish security in the area with the ANA out in the lead and show the local populace that Afghan and U.S. forces are here for their protection. A "cordon and knock" mission typically involves setting up a security perimeter around a specific objective with a maneuver element that conducts voluntary searches inside the cordon.
"With this operation we were able to get the Marines and ANA working together and let the enemy know, it's not just Marines, but ANA coming after them," said Sgt. Thomas Williams, squad leader.
The 12-hour mission was conducted on foot and started from one of 2/8's patrol bases at 4:45 a.m. The movement was approximately two miles over tough terrain to their objective where the Marines posted security while the ANA conducted questioning and voluntary searches of the residents' homes.
"One of the main obstacles we faced was the terrain," said Lance Cpl. Steven Keller, team leader. "There was a lot of mud and canals, as well as the tree lines which disrupted our line of sight."
Almost as soon as the Marines and ANA reached the objective, the first IED detonated and small-arms fire was exchanged.
First squad tried link with the other squad from another platoon who was under fire, but triggered another IED which kept them from reaching their fellow Marines. The fight only lasted a short time, but once it was over the ANA were able to start voluntary questioning and searches of the village.
"With the searches, we wanted the ANA to go in first," said Staff Sgt. Michael A. Garrett, platoon sergeant. "They have been working here for years, so they knew what questions to ask and also who was suspicious."
According to Garrett, local residents told the ANA that insurgents were active in the area and they told them to stay in their homes.
The town was rigged with IED's, as well as command wire which was hidden in multiple places, according to Williams.
"But we had some pretty good CEB (Combat Engineer Battalion) guys that helped us out, and used the mine sweepers to find pretty much everything," he added.
Overall the operation was a success. There were no casualties and the ANA did their job well. Their actions will only improve the effectiveness of upcoming operations, according to Garrett.
(Report by Lance Cpl. Daniel Flynn, Regimental Combat Team 3.)
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