FORWARD OPERATING BASE GERONIMO, Afghanistan — While the Marines at Forward Operating Base Geronimo sleep soundly at night, the guard force stays vigilant and watchful.
Guard Marines are responsible for the security of Geronimo first and foremost. Second to that, they conduct mounted and dismounted security patrols up to five kilometers out from here, explained Gunnery Sgt. Michael Rivera, the Headquarters and Service Company gunnery sergeant.
Marines from 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment moved into FOB Geronimo in July shortly after the start of Operation Khanjar. Three squads of Marines rotate between standing post, patrolling and sleeping. Even during their rest period, the Marines are in standby mode, filling the role of Geronimo's quick reaction force.
The QRF acts like a lifeline. Whenever they are needed, whether a patrol takes contact or a local Afghan has a stuck vehicle, these Marines are there to provide additional firepower for the patrol or assistance and security for the local driver.
Most patrols conducted around Geronimo have Marines interacting with the local populace, either through a "meet and greet" or at vehicle checkpoints.
"We interact with the Afghans to build a relationship," said Lance Cpl. Louis J. Nagy, an administration clerk. "That way, in the future, they will trust us once they know we're here to protect them."
Conducting vehicle patrols and foot patrols daily, the guard is always awake providing security 24 hours a day.
"You don't always get a lot of sleep being on guard," Nagy said. "But we have to keep this place safe. It's an important job. I take it seriously because people's lives are in our hands."
Many forward-operating positions within 1/5's area of operations experience small-arms attacks by insurgents and improvised explosive device-finds are a common occurrence for some Marines. However, FOB Geronimo has far fewer of these events.
Rivera attributes the security situation to the Marines' robust patrolling effort. As long as we continue to stay vigilant, we will be far more likely to maintain stability in the area, he added.
The guard has a very big responsibility to keep everyone here safe. It is no easy task but these Marines are up for the challenge.
"We take care of everybody," Rivera said. "That's what the guard force does."