TREK NAWA, HELMAND PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN
NAWA DISTRICT, Helmand province, Afghanistan — In the past several years, Nawa has become the hallmark of what the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is striving to achieve within Helmand province. The Afghan National Security Forces and the Marines of Bravo Company have moved into a new patrol base within the district to further promote peace and limit the movement of what is left of insurgent fighters operating in the area.
Marines with the company, nicknamed “Bad Company,” packed their sea bags recently to move to a location in the southeastern portion of Trek Nawa, along with their Afghan National Army counterparts. The Marines were tasked to secure the new site and make their new patrol base operational in only 10 days with help of Marine engineer reservists from 4th Combat Engineer Battalion, who are currently attached to 2nd CEB for the deployment.
“One of the main things we were focusing on doing was disrupting improvised explosive device emplacement,” said 1st Lt. William Laverty, a Chester, N.J., native and a platoon commander with the company. “(Previously), we were patrolling out to Routes Red Dog and Reagan. The establishment of a patrol base at the intersection of Red Dog and Reagan would legitimize the patrolling efforts there, as well as have constant eyes on (the routes).”
Bad Company Marines who have patrolled or convoyed through this area have found several IEDs in and around the routes.
“Red Dog and Reagan are known high-IED emplacement areas,” said Gunnery Sgt. Todd D. Stolte, a Marissa, Ill., native and the company gunnery sergeant for Bad Company. “In just the short time (we have been) there, the number of IED finds has been reduced dramatically.”
Laverty said setting up camp at the intersection of the formerly deadly routes will set the foundation for future development in the province. He added by moving into an area where insurgents are operating sends them a message they cannot ignore.
“By going over and moving 5 kilometers to the east, it put a huge stamp on our place here and I think it sent a huge message to the enemy as well, saying this is our area of operation and your freedom of movement is going to be cut,” said the 25-year-old.
“It is patrol bases that are located at key intersections or key terrain that are really going to restrict the enemy’s movement and facilitate ours.”
The enemy’s limited movement and reduction in IED emplacements has an overlying benefit, not just for the citizens of Nawa, but also for the entire province.
“It is working into what the (battalion commander) wants as far as securing the roads from Marjah to Nawa, Garmsir to Lashkar Gah. Within just a few days we’ve really seen it open up tremendously,” said Laverty, a graduate of Villanova University in Villanova, Pa. “I think as we work with 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, and as the ANA take it over from them, (this move) is really going to stretch our presence -- it should open up everything. It will increase mission capabilities and mission success.”
Laverty pointed out the inside of the compound can house more than a company of Marines or ANA soldiers.
“It would be an easy transition for a company to occupy it in the future,” said Laverty. “Realistically, if we are trying to tone down numbers, which we are, this has been built to support a Marine platoon, company, as well as an ANA Tolia. The patrol base is large enough.”
Laverty said another benefit of moving his Marines’ position was it opens up the gateway for logistical convoys. Having new routes to travel will speed the battalion’s immediate reaction to potential causalities and even delivering supplies, which proved to be a challenge while building the patrol base.
“One of the first things we had to come up with was what we need to be able to operate, and then, once we identified those needs, where are we going to resource them from,” said Stolte, said graduate of Marissa Junior Senior High School. “Once they were resourced, how are we going to get them out to us to sustain (operations)? That was the biggest hurdle as a battalion we had to face.”
The Marines had only 10 days to build the patrol base. They were determined to break that timeline and be sleeping soundly in their new patrol base long before the deadline’s expiration. The Marines were able to complete the task in half the time they were assigned.
“Not enough credit can be given to 4th CEB, attached to 2nd CEB. We were undermanned, but they took their timeline and cut it in half. Having such a crisp expertise of their craft in the Marine Corps, they executed it perfectly,” said Laverty. “In a couple days we landed in the enemy’s backyard. We were able to establish a security perimeter within minutes of being there, and we started building the patrol base.”
Laverty said once the combat engineers where finished with their construction project, they told him, ”This is the skeleton; you have to further improve it.” The Marines of Bad Company are putting on the finishing touches on their newest patrol base and ready it for their replacements, as they will transfer the area of operations to 2/6 later this year.
“Hopefully, as we start to transition with 2/6, we are going to give them the fundamentals and the structure they need to further establish it for the ANA,” concluded Laverty.
Editor’s note: Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, is currently assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5, 2nd Marine Division (Forward), which heads Task Force Leatherneck. The task force serves as the ground combat element of Regional Command (Southwest) and works in partnership with the Afghan National Security Forces and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations. The unit is dedicated to securing the Afghan people, defeating insurgent forces, and enabling ANSF assumption of security responsibilities within its area of operations in order to support the expansion of stability, development and legitimate governance.
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