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    HIMARS providing vital fire support to Afghan forces in Helmand



    Story by Sgt. Lucas Hopkins 

    Resolute Support Headquarters

    In October of 2017, a small detachment of U.S. Marines arrived in Helmand province, Afghanistan, attaching to Task Force Southwest and bringing with them the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System.

    The HIMARS is an extremely flexible fire support asset, which allows the Marines to provide crucial assistance to Afghan National Defense and Security Forces conducting operations against the Taliban in Helmand province.

    “Our mission is to have all-weather, 24-hour artillery support capability. Since HIMARS is the only weapon system that can do this, it provides fire support for any ANDSF personnel who need it,” said U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Ryan Crider, the Task Force Southwest HIMARS launch chief.

    Since their arrival, the Marines operating the HIMARS have executed more than ten missions in support of Afghan forces, helping them kill enemy fighters, destroy Taliban IED manufacturing and drug processing facilities, and enhance security for the Helmand populace.

    “HIMARS is capable of ranges of out to 300 kilometers. It’s a highly mobile system that is very adaptable to any condition, and it provides [commanders] with… surface-to-surface all-weather fires in order to support our partners on the ground,” said U.S. Marine Capt. Justin Noone, the officer-in-charge of the HIMARS detachment.

    Helmand-based ANDSF relied solely on coalition and Afghan air assets to deliver explosives onto enemy locations during their operations prior to HIMARS arriving. By using GPS technology, HIMARS delivers highly-explosive rounds across the battlespace with precision, while also giving an alternative to air-to-ground fires capabilities.

    “It’s allowed Task Force Southwest to shape the battlefield,” said Noone. “The Taliban used to be able to predict the targeting cycle, and with this artillery weapon system being surface-to-surface and firing in a different manner, it still brings a very lethal package and prevents the enemy from knowing our routine.”

    The Task Force HIMARS completed several missions during Operations Maiwand Seven, Eight, and Nine, which saw the Afghan National Army 215th Corps, 505th Zone National Police, National Directorate of Security and other elements of ANDSF work in unison to clear Taliban presence throughout Helmand province in districts such as Marjah, Gereshk, and Sangin.

    U.S Forces executed a five-day bombing campaign in November against Taliban drug labs throughout Afghanistan in order to disrupt the group’s ability to fund their insurgency. Task Force Southwest HIMARS was called on once again to target several of these locations in Northern Helmand province.

    “Our job with the HIMARS was to affect [the Taliban] by dropping munitions on those facilities and destroying them which we were able to do successfully, thereby limiting the Taliban’s ability to generate income,” said Noone.

    Whether disabling revenue streams or targeting enemy fighters themselves, HIMARS is and will continue to be a vital capability for ANDSF as they work to further build their momentum against insurgency in Afghanistan.



    Date Taken: 12.15.2017
    Date Posted: 12.15.2017 10:42
    Story ID: 259043
    Location: AF

    Web Views: 1,035
    Downloads: 3