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    Marines inhabit Taliban fortress

    Marines inhabit Taliban fortress

    Photo By Cpl. John McCall | A view of the two main buildings at Patrol Base Sullivan, Nawa District, Helmand...... read more read more



    Story by Lance Cpl. John McCall 

    Regimental Combat Team-7

    HELMAND PROVINCE, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan — Marines possess an uncanny ability to call any place "home," whether it's a mixture of sand and gravel, or in this instance, a Taliban compound.

    Marines with Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, have been operating out of what Marines refer to as "the mansion" here, since Aug. 1.

    According to what local Afghans have told Marines, the compound belonged to a drug lord who was having it built to house his entire family. However, the construction was never completed because he was arrested and taken to prison.

    Marines were sent to the compound to clear it out, believing it was a Taliban stronghold. They expected resistance when taking over the compound, but were met with an empty home in need of some landscaping.

    "It was a real mess when we first got here," said Cpl. Jacob Mikesell, 22, a mortarman from Papillion, Neb. "There was grass growing up to our chests, the buildings had mounds of dust covering everything and trash was thrown all over the place."

    The compound consists of two, three-story buildings, which Marines and Afghan national army soldiers inhabit.

    The two main buildings are made out of mostly marble and concrete, wooden window frames and doors with designs carved into them. Colored tiles cover the outside. The compound is surrounded by gigantic walls, giving it the look of a castle from outside. Marines can't help but call their home a mansion.

    "After we moved in, locals told us that most of the Taliban in the area had run away," said Sgt. Nicholas Hine, a squad leader with Weapons Co., 1/5. "But we know there are still some here who are trying to coerce the population to go against us."

    Marines conduct foot patrols and vehicle mounted patrols daily to keep the surrounding area safe.

    Other Weapons Company forward operating positions rely on being supplied with food and water from the mansion. During local village visits, Marines promise to provide security and help them the best that they can with their issues and concerns.

    "We collect a lot of census information and atmospherics too. We try to get to know people by talking to them, learning where they live and understand what problems they have," said Hine, a 24-year-old from Mohnton, Pa.



    Date Taken: 11.08.2009
    Date Posted: 11.08.2009 23:37
    Story ID: 41281

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