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    81 Millimeter Mortars Platoon battles Taliban through counter insurgency



    Story by Cpl. Joshua Hines 

    II Marine Expeditionary Force   

    MUSA QAL’EH, Afghanistan – Counter-insurgency is the weapon of choice for the Marines of 1st Lt. Robert E. Rain’s platoon, the 81 Millimeter Mortars Platoon, attached to Company B, 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, Regimental Combat Team 2, who aim to provide security, support and friendship to the Afghan people.

    From the moment 1st Bn., 8th Marines, took control of its area of operation, Rain and his Marines’ mission has been marked by showing the Afghan nationals they are here to support them. Since then they have been hard at work building a strong relationship with the local Afghan people, said Capt. Ryan Gordinier, the assistant operations officer with Headquarters and Service Company.

    “[U.S. Marine Corps] 1st Lt. Rain is conducting full spectrum of counter-insurgency operations, which means hunting the enemy, protecting and bettering the lives of the Afghan people, and developing the Afghan national security forces,” said Gordinier.

    Some of the ways Rain and his Marines have conducted counter-insurgency operations is by bringing electricity and a water pump to the people. They also began a weekly meeting, otherwise known as a shura, that allows the people to express their concerns and work through problems.

    “Before we arrived here, there was no forum for the village elders to come together and discuss important issues, so I think the shuras have helped gain the support of the people immensely,” said Sgt. Joshua Gray, a 23-year-old squad leader with Mortars Platoon.

    The shuras allow the Marines to counteract the separation between the Afghan people and themselves. Because the Marines live away from the village, these shuras give them a chance to meet with the locals, outside of patrols.

    “It allows us to let the people know we’re legitimately doing our best to assist them while providing them security, and trying to give them a better life,” said Rain, a 26-year-old native of Dallas.

    With the weekly shura, Rain ties the local elders into the government leadership, said Gordinier.

    Winning over the people is a slow-going process, but by treating the people with respect and dignity the Marines have had a lot of success, said Staff Sgt. Jeremy J. Rugg, the joint tactical air controller attached to Bravo Company, 1st Bn., 8th Marines.

    “We go out to the village and talk to them and try to find out what problems they’re having,” said Rugg.

    Rain explained why his Marines have been able to reach the people.

    “The Marines out here are performing extremely well. Everyone has made a huge effort to interact with the people. Every patrol that goes out tries to sit down and have chai with someone, just to sit down, drink tea and really talk to them,” said Rain.

    Earning the peoples’ support has been one of the leading factors behind the Marines’ ability to find and safely destroy more than 24 improvised explosive devices, said Rugg.

    “We’ve found a lot of IED’s thanks to the locals, because we made a big point early on that we’re here to help the people, but we needed their help to do it,” said Rain. We let people know that if they told us where they found IED’s we could get rid of them and be able to better protect them.”

    With the locals information the Marines have been able to capture or kill more than 30 Taliban insurgents.

    Security has been increased in Darwaty by establishing a new security post to deal with the Taliban who were setting IED’s and threatening the people, said Rain.

    “So far, the feedback from the people has been great; the people continue to express their excitement and gratitude for the security we’re providing for the village,” said Rain.

    The security post in Darawaty will eventually be turned into a Marine and Afghan uniformed police partnered patrol base.

    “We have a great working relationship with the AUP. Every time we’ve been in contact with the enemy the AUP has rushed over in their trucks ready to jump in the fight and help us,” said Rain.

    Working alongside the AUP and Afghan National Army, the Marines have repelled the enemy’s attacks, while providing security for the locals.

    The Marines continued success in their mission hasn’t been come without a price as Rain’s Marines were dealt a heavy blow in early October when Staff Sgt. Glenn Silva, the platoon sergeant for 81 Millimeter Mortars Platoon, was severely wounded in an IED blast.

    “That was definitely a big loss for us, but the sergeant section leaders have done a phenomenal job, said Rain. They all continue to do an outstanding job carrying on the fight.”

    As 1st Bn., 8th Marines continues on in its deployment and with Rain and the Marines of the Mortars Platoon keeping counter-insurgency as their main goal, the Afghan people can rest assured that the Marines will continue to provide them security, support and friendship.



    Date Taken: 11.23.2010
    Date Posted: 11.23.2010 12:46
    Story ID: 60726
    Location: MUSA QAL’EH, AF

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