PATROL BASE 7171, AFGHANISTAN
PATROL BASE 7171, Helmand province, Afghanistan – Armored trucks provide unique capabilities in a combat environment and mobile sections are often among the most utilized assets for a line company during an Afghanistan deployment. Missions tasked out to mobile sections can be highly variable – flexibility is a must for its Marines, especially during formal operations. The high-stress, sometimes tedious life of a mobile Marine in Afghanistan takes some getting used to as personal comfort gives way to mission accomplishment.
Corporal John Kehoe, from Joliet, Ill.; Lance Cpl. Dakin M. Jausel, from Coulterville, Ill.; and Lance Cpl. Ryan J. Merritt, from Marshall, Minn.; all with Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, have served in the company’s mobile section since arriving to Afghanistan in late summer as the crew of Truck Four.
All three Marines are mortarmen by trade, having no experience working in a truck crew prior to the battalion's pre-deployment training evolution. Their new role as a truck crew – Kehoe the vehicle commander, Jausel the driver and Merritt the turret gunner – took some adjustment at first, but they quickly adapted.
"It's definitely something that takes getting used to – sleeping in a seat, not being able to stretch out; being stuck in your gear for nine, 10 days at a time; eating nothing but (Meals, Ready to Eat) – things like that," said Kehoe, 23. "My Marines and I have grown comfortable to it; I enjoy sleeping in a truck over lying on the ground any day."
Truck Four's Marines, as with the rest of the mobile section, have been especially busy during recent weeks as Fox Company is participating in Operation Double Check, during which the company is responsible for disrupting enemy forces on the southeastern side of the Musa Qal’eh wadi, or riverbed, in northern Helmand province. The mobile section was tasked to provide security for combat engineers as they constructed elevated posts to be used by Afghan Uniformed Police personnel in southern Musa Qal'eh district. The Marines also conducted logistical missions for the company during the opening days of the operation and served as a quick reaction force if needed, among other things.
"Every day varied," said Kehoe, a 2006 graduate of Minooka Community High School in Minooka, Ill. "Some days we were just holding a blocking position, holding in place until we were ready to push forward. On another day we did a foot patrol to resupply the snipers and foot patrols throughout the villages just to keep a presence. A few days we had to ride back to PB 7171 to get logistical resupplies and other things the company needed to sustain for the mission and keep the ball moving forward."
The days were grueling, the nights often sleepless and the mission constantly changing for these Marines, but they stayed flexible and got the job done. They had no trouble finding motivation to accomplish their mission, whatever it happened to be at any given time, according to Jausel, 21.
"You've got to just take it one day at a time," said Jausel, who graduated from Coulterville High School in 2008. "It's rough out here but all the other Marines are going through the same thing during this operation. You've got to just push through it."
Kehoe takes pride in his crew’s and section’s performances in the beginning stages of Operation Double Check and expects continued success for the future.
"So far it has been a success for our section," said Kehoe. "Jausel and Merritt have done an outstanding job – they've been great. The way we prepped (for the operation) with drills, rehearsals – all the things we did prior to stepping off on the mission really paid off."
Editor’s note: Second Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, is currently assigned to Regimental Combat Team 6 in 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 Force 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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This work, Fox mobile Marines stay flexible during Operation Double Check, by Cpl Tommy Bellegarde, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.