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    Marines storm Now Zad, wipe out Taliban forces

    Marines storm Now Zad, wipe out Taliban forces

    Photo By Cpl. Zachary Nola | Petty Officer 3rd Class Kane Tugas, a hospital corpsman with Lima Company, 3rd...... read more read more

    HELMAND PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN

    12.05.2009

    Story by Cpl. Zachary Nola 

    Regimental Combat Team-7

    HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan — When the Marines and sailors of Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment came to the Now Zad region in Afghanistan, the message they received from outgoing units was simple: Beware of the village of Changwalak.

    Marines and sailors from Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, proved such propaganda was nothing more than a mere bluff, when they rolled through Now Zad, Afghanistan, Dec. 5, as part of Operation Cobra's Anger.

    "[The outgoing units] wouldn't ever go to Changwalak," said Lance Cpl. Estevan White, 22, an assault man with Lima Co., 3/4, from Anthony, Texas. "They told us never go there, because that's where they took all their casualties."

    Word of the Taliban fighters using Changwalak to house their families, supplies and station reinforcements quickly cemented Now Zad's reputation for being one of the more dangerous areas in southern Afghanistan.

    It was reported the Taliban even went as far as boasting that coalition forces could never take the town by force.

    Lima Company entered the town with artillery, tanks and both fixed and rotary-wing air support readily available, should they encounter heavy enemy resistance. Such support wasn't needed, and the Marines of Lima Co. quickly began the tedious process of searching for weapons caches and improvised explosive devices.

    "We found a lot of IED-making material, and it's totally in our favor to do that because we're going to be traveling these roads for the next four or five months, and we don't need any more casualties from IEDs," said Lance Cpl. Shelton Foerster, 22, a rifleman with Lima Co., 3/4.

    The Marines also located weapons and mortar positions used to launch attacks on the nearby forward operating base, spoke will villagers, and promoted the legitimacy of the Afghan national security forces.

    As Lima Co. continued to exploit caches and fighting positions it became apparent the town was supporting Taliban efforts, but the Marines were quick to point out such support was probably the result of forced intimidation.

    "[Changwalak] is definitely harboring the enemy, but I think the people are stuck between a rock and a hard place," said Foerster, from Sealy, Texas.

    During the three days the Marines operated in the town their enemy, who promised to fight hard to defend the city, did little to impede the company's progress. However, the Marines were not fooled by the Taliban's absence, and aware that there is still much more work to do in the village.

    "I think [the Taliban] went down in their little holes they've dug for years. So I still think they're in Changwalak, I just think we need to dig a little bit deeper to get them out," said Foerster. "[The Taliban] are biding their time and afraid to fight us because they saw all our assets, but I think a couple months down the road they are going to give us a little more resistance."

    In the three days Lima Co. was in Changwalak, they made a critical step toward purging the area of Taliban fighters. Once Taliban manipulation in the area is ended Afghan national security forces and coalition forces will be able to take greater strides en route to a safer and more secure Now Zad.

    "If we can take Changwalak away from the enemy, then people will start coming back to this area, and then eventually flow into Now Zad and have this whole area back to civilian control," said Foerster.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 12.05.2009
    Date Posted: 12.13.2009 11:21
    Story ID: 42695
    Location: HELMAND PROVINCE, AF 

    Web Views: 683
    Downloads: 524

    PUBLIC DOMAIN