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    Marines, Afghan National Police stay vigilant in southern Afghanistan

    Marines, Afghan National Police stay vigilant in southern Afghanistan

    Photo By Lance Cpl. Brian Jones | An AH-1W Super Cobra Attack Helicopter flies over a mountain ridge in support of...... read more read more

    BAKWA, Afghanistan — Through binoculars, a Marine spotted suspicious men in the distance. Over the radio, he passed the word. The security convoy circled around and pushed up to investigate. As they moved in closer, shots rang out from the ridge ahead, May 4.

    The insurgents' rounds impacted close to the Marines' vehicles. On the order, the Marines returned fire causing the insurgents' retreat. The insurgents had completely fled before a quick-reaction force and air support arrived on scene. Shortly afterward, the Marines dismounted and went up the ridge. They found no traces of casualties, just fresh tracks and probable bunkers that may have been used as outposts.

    This was not a typical patrol for the Marines of Company I, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment (Reinforced), the ground combat element of Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force — Afghanistan. They have successfully kept security under control in Bakwa, Farah Province, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and such events are rare.

    "None of them hesitated," said Cpl. Josh B. Reasbeck, the squad leader who led the patrol that day. "They were all employed the way they were supposed to be. They all did exactly what they were taught to do. I'm really proud of all them, and I have full confidence of their abilities."

    Prior to alliance forces arriving in Bakwa, insurgent intimidation destroyed the community and pushed many people away. From testimonies of locals, the Marines know insurgents are still active in the area but have little influence.

    "The security has increased tremendously with us being here and with the Afghan national police starting to step up," said Cpl. Chris L. Parra, a 3rd Civil Affairs Group non-commissioned officer attached to Co. I. "The people actually feel more secure now that they see the local government taking time to put in effort in providing security for the locals in the area."

    The Marines of Co. I are operating from Forward Operating Base Bakwa and two combat outposts. They continually conduct mounted and dismounted security patrols, maintain quick reaction force teams and keep a 24-hour watch over the immediate areas.

    "The threat out here is improvised explosive devices," said Reasbeck. "We don't really worry about direct fire so much."

    Occasionally, the Marines will catch a local, who was persuaded by insurgents, planting an improvised explosive device in the road, said Reasbeck.

    With security efforts going well, the Marines take time to focus on training an eager-to-learn ANP.

    "They seem like they really want to do their job and be the protectors of Afghanistan," said Lance Cpl. Jacob A. Hutto, a team leader with Co. I.

    Marines such as Hutto train the ANP with the help of interpreters to overcome the language barrier. The ANP are trained in basic formations, patrolling and weapons handling.

    The ANP have made a considerable amount of progress from the time Co. I first arrived, said Hutto.

    The Marines coordinate security patrols with the ANP, showing the local civilians that the U.S. and Afghan forces are working together, said Reasbeck.

    With the ANP at their sides, the Marines visit villages to speak with locals. While in the villages, they take the opportunity to do assessments of what the people need and inquire about any activity in the area.

    "Generally they're pretty happy and welcome us with open arms," said Hutto.

    Reasbeck added that the locals are pleased to find that the Marines are willing to help with problems, such as ineffective wells. In return, the villagers are willing to share information.

    "When I first got here, the people were very scared and very reluctant to come up and talk to us," Parra said. "Now they meet us and shake our hands in public. It's completely different now."



    Date Taken: 05.12.2009
    Date Posted: 05.13.2009 10:38
    Story ID: 33557
    Location: BAKWA, AF

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