News: ‘Goliath’ Battery holds the front line at Kajaki
Story by Sgt. Jacob Harrer
OBSERVATION POST SHRINE, Afghanistan – The Marines here guard the northeastern frontier in Helmand province. Beyond the boundary of the observation post lies known enemy territory, where insurgent fighters have taken refuge. Farmland and abandoned compounds surround the post. Insurgents sporadically shoot machine gun bursts and launch attacks against the Marines from many different positions, and when the Marines fight back, the enemy forces flee into dry riverbeds deep enough to conceal most movement. For the past four months, the Marines of Golf Battery, 2nd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment repelled dozens of attacks and kept enemy forces from moving forward.
Since 2010, Marines have pushed insurgents north past the district center, said Sgt. Erick A. Granados, the 1st squad leader with 1st platoon, Golf Battery, 2nd Bn., 11th Marines. They established Observation Post Shrine to counter and attack insurgents where they settled, while preventing the enemy from conducting offensive operations against coalition forces in the area.
In conjunction with Afghan National Security Force posts, OP Shrine forms the line where insurgents can’t cross and threaten several targets, including the Golf Battery Headquarters at Forward Operating Base Zeebrugge, said 1st Sgt. Christopher S. Gasser, the Golf Battery first sergeant with 2nd Bn., 11th Marines. The post stands as a buffer between known enemy positions, the Kajaki district center and the Kajaki Dam. The dam provides most of the power for much of Helmand province and is key infrastructure for Afghanistan.
From OP Shrine, Marines observe insurgent movement, creating a “security bubble” where insurgents can’t move forward without being detected, explained Grenados, a 25-year-old native of Houston. Enemy forces regularly attack OP Shrine because they can’t maneuver around it and move toward the district center.
“Now we have the main advantage,” added Grenados. “We have a [heavily] fortified position… where we can engage the enemy and have the upper hand. Any time they try to attack with a burst of machine guns, we have a lot more guns and they just don’t stand a chance. All the guys love all the firepower that we have up here. It gives us the advantage.”
Additionally, Golf Battery has the ability to rapidly call in fire support to the battlefield, said Capt. Joshua B. Kling, the Golf Battery commander with 2nd Bn., 11th Marines. The Marines manning OP Shrine and conducting foot patrols are experienced with firing howitzers and receiving fire missions, so they are able to coordinate fire support efficiently.
“The Marines providing fire support have a better understanding of what’s going on in the battlefield,” Kling said. “They understand what it looks like and what the Marines and other units are calling in, whether we’re looking at a building [with insurgents] or insurgents in an open field, and it helps us provide the proper munitions to engage the target.”
Filling both roles is challenging for the Marines, but they have performed exceptionally well, said Kling, a 34-year-old native of Roanoke, Va. Each Marine in Golf Battery received intensive predeployment training on infantry tactics and have all spent time on OP Shrine.
“It certainly changes their perspective a bit to see what it’s like for other Marines in the unit going out there,” said Kling. “I think Golf Battery really epitomizes the concept that every Marine is a rifleman.”
Editor's Note: Golf Battery, 2nd Battalion, 11th Marines is currently assigned to Regimental Combat Team 6, which is a part of Task Force Leatherneck. First Marine Division (Forward) heads Task Force Leatherneck, the ground combat element of Regional Command (Southwest), and works in partnership with the Afghan National Security Force and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations. The unit is dedicated to securing the Afghan people, defeating insurgent forces, and enabling ANSF assumption of security responsibilities within its area of operations in order to support the expansion of stability, development and legitimate governance.