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    Marines, ANA clear Laki compounds

    HELMAND PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN

    01.10.2010

    Story by Lance Cpl. Dwight Henderson 

    Regimental Combat Team-7

    HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan — Throughout Jan. 4-7, the Marines and sailors of Jump Platoon, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, rose from their dew covered sleeping bags, grabbed a meal ready to eat and prepared for a patrol.

    There were clearing compounds within the vicinity of the village of Laki, in Garmsir district, Helmand province, Afghanistan, along with, the Marines and sailors of Weapons Company, 2/2, and their counterpart Afghan National Army.

    A conventional coalition force had never visited the village of Laki which meant that every compound had to be searched for any weapons or improvised explosive device making materials. They also had to talk to the owner of every compound to record their name and picture.

    After they gathered up their gear, the Marines and ANA began clearing the last compounds of the section of Laki with which they were assigned.

    They moved through the muddy fields and along the dirt paths in between compounds. Each haystack was checked by a Marine with a minesweeper and they left no stone unturned as they meticulously checked each compound and the surrounding areas.

    Over the four days in Laki the Marines of Jump Platoon thoroughly searched 85 different compounds.

    "That's a lot," said Cpl. Joseph R. Opinski, an assaultmen with Jump Platoon. "We got a rhythm down, we had the same guys sweeping, the same guys searching, the same guys interviewing and the same guys working with the ANA."

    A vital aspect to their many searches was respecting the culture of the area by always having the ANA sent in first and they would also would ask the owner of the compound to have the women and children living there moved into the courtyard, out of the way, so they could search the entire compound.

    "It's very important that the ANA goes first and they search the boxes so you don't touch their Koran or other materials like that," said Opinski.

    Without the ANA's help, the locals of Laki may have been less receptive to the presence of the Marines, especially when it came to searching their compounds.

    "It's important that we partner with the [Afghan national security forces] as much as possible," said Capt. Matthew J. Kutilek, the commanding officer of Weapons Company, 2/2. "Every patrol we sent out had ANA on it and every house we searched had ANA in it."

    Through the diligent searches by both Weapons Company, Jump Platoon, and the ANA turned up a weapons cache, a few older IEDs, and random bits of suspected Taliban propaganda.

    "Every day I'm more and more impressed with the performance and work ethic of Weapons Company," said Kutilek. "I'm impressed with the physical and moral courage of each and every Marine."

    Sgt. Jeremy P. Shirey, a squad leader with Jump Platoon, added that there was an expectation of firefights breaking out during the searching, but that never came to fruition.

    Over the past four days of searchers a relationship has been established with the locals of Laki that will hopefully help with any possible further operations in that area.

    "It was good," said Opinski. "Now we know what goes on down there."

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 01.10.2010
    Date Posted: 01.10.2010 02:00
    Story ID: 43614
    Location: HELMAND PROVINCE, AF 

    Web Views: 1,043
    Downloads: 918

    PUBLIC DOMAIN