News: Marines battle Taliban, protect locals
Story by Cpl. Ned Johnson
SANGIN, Afghanistan – When the Marines of Company K, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 2, set out on patrol, Aug. 3, a simple civil affairs mission turned into an on-going firefight.
The task was to provide security during transport of a civil affairs team to talk to the locals about how Marines could help them, said Staff Sgt. Jesus Suarez, a platoon sergeant with Company K, 3rd Bn., 7th Marines.
Just a few minutes after the locals said there village had not seen fighting in a year, insurgents attacked with small arms and machine gun fire.
“We had a main effort push into the village and start conducting key leader engagements,” Suarez said. “That was when we got attacked by enemy forces.”
The Marines immediately found protection for nearby villagers and returned fire.
“The [insurgent] element was probably a squad size element,” said Derek Hopkins, a mortarman with Company K, 3rd Bn., 7th Marines.
After fighting continued for several minutes, Marines used fire superiority and movement to gain advantage over the enemy. Once the firing stopped, the Marines continued on the mission.
Although the mission was complete, the conflict was not over.
“As we were headed back, we continued to take contact,” said Suarez, a 34-year-old native of Corpus Christi, Texas.
This time, the snipers attached to Company K took control of the battle and helped defeat the enemy. The effective fire of the snipers immediately neutralized two of the enemy combatants.
The mission was designed to establish relationships with the villagers. Even though the village swarmed with civilians, insurgents attacked anyway.
“I think they are becoming desperate,” Suarez said. “They see the success we are having and they don’t want it to spread into other areas.”
“They are causing whatever violence they can to keep the local population from working with us,” Suarez continued.
The violence, however, will not prevent the Marines from continuing to help the locals, and Hopkins said they will continue to do security patrols throughout the Northern Green Zone and search for more avenues to help the locals via civil affairs projects.