News: Afghan soldiers take lead in Marjah security operation
Story by Lance Cpl. Tyler Reiriz
MARJAH, Afghanistan - Soldiers of Weapons Tolai, 3rd Kandak, 215th Corps worked with the Marines of the Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, to set up a vehicle check point in Marjah, March 22.
The Afghan National Army soldiers took charge, searching vehicles and pedestrians while Marines provided support and security.
In the past, the Marines were leading operations, teaching the ANA soldiers by example. Today, the soldiers conduct their own operations.
Cpl. Glenn D. Stadig, a squad leader with Weapons Company, said working with the ANA has changed since his previous deployment to Afghanistan in 2010.
“Last year the Marines taught them,” Stadig said. “This year the ANA are doing their own thing. They’re making their own briefs, leading their own squads and setting up their own operations. On patrols they’re more vigilant. I’m impressed with the ANA this year.”
Stadig said the self-sufficiency of the ANA soldiers has made it much easier for Marines to collaborate with them. He said it was the reason the vehicle checkpoint operation went so well.
Afghan National Army soldiers searched vehicles for weapons, drugs and items that could be used to manufacture improvised explosive devices.
The soldiers confiscated several suspicious items from men who were passing through. Staff Sgt. Said Yasin, the platoon sergeant of the ANA soldiers at the checkpoint, directed the soldiers operating the check point and personally investigated anything his men reported as suspicious.
One item that caught Yasin’s interest was a large bag of glass bottles.
“This could be used as shrapnel in IEDs,” Yasin said. “The man couldn’t tell us where he got it or why, so it was suspicious.”
Yasin confiscated the glass and had it destroyed and the shards disposed of to prevent them from being used to harm service members or civilians.
In recent operations, the Marines of 2nd Bn., 9th Marines have taken a back seat to let the Afghan forces in Marjah take charge of their own country.
“Having them take their own initiative is really good,” said Stadig. “When we let them do it their way, they treat the good people like good people, and they treat the bad people like bad people. They have proven to be effective out here, and the locals understand that and believe in the ANA.”
Editor's Note: Weapons company, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment is currently assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5, 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.