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    Bravo Company maintains success in Operation Eastern Storm

    OBSERVATION POST MARYLAND, HELMAND , AFGHANISTAN

    10.29.2011

    Story by Cpl. Marco Mancha 

    II Marine Expeditionary Force

    OBSERVATION POST MARYLAND, Helmand province, Afghanistan -- “Up to this point, it’s been a phenomenal success, and I think it exceeded all of our expectations,” said Lt. Col. George Benson, battalion commander, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment,about his unit’s ongoing participation in Operation Tofan Sharq (Eastern Storm).

    Eastern Storm is a major offensive operation to root out the Taliban-led insurgency in the Upper Sangin Valley region of Kajaki. Bravo Company, 1/6, has demonstrated its continuing success throughout the operation by establishing Observation Post Maryland.

    The area in and around the OP Maryland was once riddled with insurgents, but after only a few days of close combat, the Marines and Afghan National Army soldiers have pushed through and crushed the enemy’s hold in the vicinity. Lance Cpl. Robert Henry IV of Augusta, Ga., is an M249 Squad Automatic Weapon gunner with the company and admitted it wasn’t easy.

    Henry explained their packs were loaded down with ammunition, equipment and everything they needed to survive for several weeks – he estimated his pack weighed more than 100 pounds with hundreds of rounds of ammunition and the extra machine gun barrel he carries.

    Luckily for Henry and the rest of the Bravo Company Marines, heavy packs haven’t slowed their progress since their insertion into Kajaki. In fact, the Marines were prepared for heavy resistance, but have easily overcome insurgent forces in the area.

    “The local (residents) here, when we first got here, completely abandoned the town, so we were expecting one hell of a firefight” said Henry, a 2008 graduate of Lakeside High School. “But for those first three days it was kind of quiet, so we took our time. We were slow and methodical clearing every single room of every single building in this town.”

    The Marines have since maintained control of OP Maryland, and the surrounding area is already showing signs of local residents returning to their homes. Children now play in the cornfields, and families tend their crops, no longer threatened by insurgent forces.

    First Sgt. Mohammad Raza with the Afghan National Army said he believes it is because the people in the area feel at ease knowing they are being protected by the Marines and ANA.
    “The residents of the area are very happy having ANA and Marines present,” said Raza, who’s been fighting the enemy for more than five years. “They are now able to come back to the town and live their normal lives.”

    Both the ANA and Marines are working to ensure the newfound peaceful atmosphere continues for as long as possible.

    They’ve been on more than 35 foot patrols since arriving to OP Maryland and patrol regularly throughout the day.

    One Marine with the unit, Cpl. Baldwin Casimiro of North Richland Hills, Texas, said he sees a difference on patrol everyday.

    “To us, seeing the kids play around just like you would see anywhere in the United States tells us they’re having a good time and are able to have a freedom of movement,” said the machine gunner and 2005 graduate of Richland High School. “It’s just really good to see a lot of positive activity and watching the people do whatever it is they want to do without fear.”

    The kind of success Bravo Company is having in Operation Eastern Storm is only a piece of the bigger puzzle for 1/6 Marines. Benson said he is very proud of the effort his Marines and sailors are putting forth and hopes the success will continue.

    Editor’s Note: First Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, is currently assigned to Regimental Combat Team 8, 2nd Marine Division (Forward)/Task Force Leatherneck. Task force Leatherneck 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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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 10.29.2011
    Date Posted: 10.29.2011 12:07
    Story ID: 79261
    Location: OBSERVATION POST MARYLAND, HELMAND , AF

    Web Views: 1,346
    Downloads: 2

    PUBLIC DOMAIN