FORWARD OPERATING BASE ZEEBRUGGE, Afghanistan— In the middle of the night, more than 80 Afghan National Civil Order Police and less than ten Marines boarded helicopters.
The plan was to insert south of the Helmand River in Kajaki and surprise the insurgents at dawn, clearing a known enemy stronghold, Feb 13. When the sun rose, the insurgents were scrambling as Afghan police began entering compounds, destroying weapons and improvised explosive device caches.
While Marines provided the helicopter support, the operation to clear Shah Malay and Azan Crossing was planned by Col. Rahimi, the ANCOP commander.
After a recent operation, Col. Rahimi pointed out that across the river is where a lot of the insurgents are, said 1st Lt. James Magenheimer, the operations officer with Kajaki ANCOP Advisor Team.
He said he wanted to go clear the area and started planning. The Marines just helped enable it.
Four Tolays, or companies, did the clearing of the compounds and objectives, while Col. Rahimi maintained communication with his men and talked to the local elders, said Magenheimer, a 27-year-old native of Mims, Fla.
The commander also made sure that he the searches were being conducted properly and that the local population was being kept safe, Magenheimer said.
The ANCOP was engaged in multiple firefights throughout the operation and destroyed numerous IED caches.
The Marines of Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment also provided fire support from the opposite side of the river. For the most part, however, the ANCOP handled its own side and rear flank security, said Sgt. Robert Cheatham, a Joint Terminal Attack Controller with the ANCOP Advisor Team and a 26-year-old native of Boonesmill, Va.
“They did a great job,” Cheatham said. “They work off mostly light infantry tactics and as a whole, the ANCOP has done a great job while we’ve worked with them.”
The Marine advisors praised the success of the mission and expect more good things to come from the ANCOP.
“This ANCOP has proven to be independent,” Magenheimer said. “Their deliberate planning has improved and their execution has always been good.”