Combat Camera: 2/8 Marines, Afghan Soldiers Continue Operation Khanjar
Dispatches from the Front:
HELMAND PROVINCE, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, July 11, 2009 -- More than 180 Marines with 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, Company G performed route clearance over a 12-kilometer area near the Helmand River from, July 2 through July 5.
Their mission was a part of Operation Khanjar, which involves more than 600 members of the Afghan national army and nearly 4,000 Marines and sailors from Marine Expeditionary Brigade – Afghanistan working to secure population centers along the Helmand River valley from the threat of Taliban and other insurgent intimidation and violence.
The company's main objective was to link up with the Afghan national army at another location and help them provide security for the people in the southern region of Helmand province.
The Marines completed this grueling foot patrol weighed down with an average of 65 to 80 pounds of protective gear, ammunition and water. Over the course of the three-day movement, the Marines encountered several improvised explosive devices, came under small arms fire and detained several insurgent fighters.
"The company's overall performance was outstanding," said Capt. Matthew J. Martin, Co. G. commanding officer. "It was a very well-planned and executed operation."
Despite the sporadic fighting the Marines encountered during the three-day push, they suffered no casualties while completing their mission of clearing the area south of Hasanabad in the Garmsir district, deep into southern Helmand province.
"The Marines handled themselves well out there, and they all made it to the objective safe and sound – which is good," said Sgt. Liam Anthony Flynn, a squad leader with Co. G.
With the objective reached, one platoon pushed further south to meet up with a sister company from the battalion. Another platoon stayed at the objective to build a patrol base and start working with the ANA to develop relationships with the locals, according to 1st Sgt. Robert W. Pullen, Co. G first sergeant.
"It's amazing what the Marines did," Pullen said. "With a full combat load, they made it through this push with all of the firefights and IED's they encountered – as well as dealing with the heat – and did a phenomenal job."
The Marines involved in Operation Khanjar have seen temperatures soar well above 100-degrees Fahrenheit – heat that is compounded by the body armor and gear that is worn close to the body.
Pullen attributes the success of the Marines here to the intense training they went through prior to their deployment, which brought the Marines together as a team and allowed them to accomplish even the most challenging of missions.
2/8, along with the other battalions under Regimental Combat Team 3, continue to reinforce the authority of the Afghan government and support the Afghan national security forces in this volatile part of the country. The Marines' primary focus remains conducting counter-insurgency operations in southern Afghanistan alongside the ANSF in order to allow the legitimate government to extend its ability to provide security for the Afghan people here.
(Report by by Lance Cpl. Daniel Flynn, Regimental Combat Team 3.)
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