News: Combat: Behind the scenes
Story by Cpl. Ed Galo
FORWARD OPERATING BASE DELARAM II, Afghanistan — The Marines and sailors with Regimental Combat Team 6 and its subordinate battalions have been working nonstop on a combat operation referred to as Operation Jaws since February.
The operation’s goal was to disrupt the enemy and establish stronger footholds in areas where insurgents have seen few American or coalition forces. The latest phase of the operation took place in the Geston Valley where Marines and sailors with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment cleared over 10 villages of insurgents.
Maj. Jonathan O’Gorman was charged with the execution of the operation.
“It was nice to get out there and be closer to the Marines; actually talk to guys on the radio and run the battle,” said O’Gorman, assistant operations officer, RCT-6. “In that sense it was exciting. I wouldn’t say, necessarily that (being charged with the execution) was hard, I would say there were some challenges in terms of what we were trying to do.”
While the Marines of Charlie Co., 1st Bn., 8th Marines, cleared the village compounds, the personnel tasked with handling the operations from a command level worked to shape the battle for them. Using aviation assets, they observed the activity on the battlefield, searched for insurgents, and kept an eye on the Marines moving on the ground.
When coalition forces on the ground took fire from enemy mortar teams, the Marines in the command operations center located the insurgents and were able to target them with a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System.
The execution of an operation is no easy feat. Since O’Gorman was in charge of that execution, he had to work with different sections within the regiment such as intelligence sections, planning sections and command operations centers within Charlie Co. and 1st Tank Battalion to make the operation a success.
According to O’Gorman, normally when an operation needs to be conducted, an order is given to one of the battalions. Due to the Geston valley’s remote location, there was no battalion close enough to issue the order. The regiment had to take personnel from different sections and make a command specifically for this operation.
“We had our direct support tank company, Alpha Company, 1st Tanks, we had Charlie Co., and we also had our regimental engineers, Alpha Company, 1st Combat Engineer Battalion that all formed a battalion-like configuration,” said O’Gorman referring to the units that came together for the latest part of Operation Jaws. “But we needed a command and control node for it. So what we did is from each section of the regiment between admin, intel, operations, logistics and communications, we pulled a lieutenant out, with me in charge. (We) had to get up there a couple days early and had to train on how to be a battalion-like configuration.”
On the ground, it was easy to see how well the planning had gone from the higher command elements. The Marines had a constant supply of food, water and fuel for their trucks. If someone was injured, medical evacuation capabilities were readily available.
“That was a little bit of a challenge, to take guys that never work together because the regimental staff is so big. They don’t communicate with one another on a daily basis, and what ever interactions they do have doesn’t involve fighting companies in the attack,” O’Gorman added. “So we got them up there and we basically had to drill guys through the whole concept of taking an intelligence report, announcing it in the (command operations center), what that would mean operationally and what actions that particular lieutenant was responsible for doing.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: First Battalion, 8th Marines is a part of Regimental Combat Team 6. RCT-6 falls under 1st 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.