News: ANA, Marines disrupt enemy, inspire confidence
Story by Cpl. Ned Johnson
FORWARD OPERATING BASE JACKSON, Afghanistan – Marines are always prepared for a gun battle, but their capabilities are broader than “kill or be killed.”
Afghan National Army soldiers and Marines with India Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment joined forces for an operation to clear a local area of improvised explosive devices and Taliban hideouts. The mission, which included support from Afghanistan’s special forces along with Marine snipers and engineers, began, Nov. 14.
The mission focused on an area where ANA soldiers and Marines have met firefights several times in the last few weeks, said Sgt. Matthew Owen, a squad leader with India Company, 3rd. Bn., 5th Marines.
It kicked off with a boom, just before sunrise, as Marines blew a hole in a compound wall. Throughout the first day, Marines searched compounds and local roads for IEDs and signs of the enemy.
With the help of their Afghan counterparts, Marines found more than five IEDs the first day and several more the second day.
Marines spent the night in local compounds where the ANA were able to use their influence.
“We could not have done it without the ANA,” said 1st Lt. Josef Patterson, 3rd Platoon Commander with India Company. “The people are more likely to open their homes to Afghans.”
The Afghan soldiers were able to help with more than just living quarters.
“We train with the ANA in everything we do,” said Patterson, a 31-year-old native of Owasso, Okla. “They were able to sweep with metal detectors and help us find IEDS.”
During this operation, the Afghan soldiers were not the only ones helping.
“The locals were amazing. They escorted us through multiple compounds and they even showed us exactly where one IED was,” Patterson said.
“This is their country and they just want to be safe and raise their families,” said Patterson, a graduate of Old Dominion University. “They are starting to see that we want to help them stay safe and the Taliban doesn’t.”
Marines with explosive ordinance disposal teams safely destroyed the IEDs that were found, making the roads in that area safer. The Marines then destroyed several fighting positions constructed by the Taliban.
“Big clearing operations always make smaller patrols easier,” said Owen, a 23-year-old native of Arroyo Grande, Calif. “The fighting positions we destroyed will help us safely establish a security presence in the area.”
This security presence will help drive out the Taliban which will give the locals hope, continued Owen.
The hope continues beyond the Marines here, though.
“This mission helped establish confidence in the Sangin area that the Afghans are helping them,” Owen said. “They know that when we are gone, they will have security without us.”
The mission was completed with no casualties and the Marines considered all objectives accomplished.
“This was a success because we showed up today and the Taliban did not,” Patterson said. “We showed the Taliban that there is no safe place they can go and showed the people that we are going to protect them no matter what.”
The Marines will continue to patrol through this area and others in Sangin to bring security to a district the Taliban wants to control, and Patterson has confidence his Marines will complete the task.
“My Marines are doing awesome things here,” Patterson said. “They are in an unfamiliar place doing unfamiliar things and they always accomplish the mission.”