DELARAM DISTRICT CENTER, Afghanistan – Patrolling taking small arms fire and living without basic comforts is every day life for one group of Marines.
The Marines with Echo Battery, 2nd Battalion, 10th Marines, Regimental Combat Team 6 have a tough mission of maintaining the security for the nearby Forward Operating Base Delaram II.
The squad-sized force of Marines and sailors with Echo Battery operate out of a small patrol base in the Delaram District Center, just outside of FOB Delaram II. They patrol through district center to talk to locals and show a presence of American forces to possible enemies hiding in the district.
“We basically try to provide an early warning to (FOB Delaram II),” Sgt. Michael Montgomery, patrol base non-commissioned officer in charge, Echo Battery, said. “We’re just outside the FOB so we can watch what’s happening in Delaram. We provide security for the district governor too.
“We try to concentrate on the main areas where the enemy has been known to operate,” Montgomery, from Potomac, Ill., added. “We try not to set a pattern by going to the same areas, but we do try to deter them from coming back.”
Although Echo Battery is part of an artillery battalion, they came to Afghanistan knowing they would provide security for FOB Delaram II instead of operating in a traditional artillery role, firing on targets miles away.
Though the Marines don’t have many luxuries, they regularly rotate people to FOB Delaram II, which has a post exchange, a barbershop and a chow hall.
Even without the creature comforts, Lance Cpl. Blaine Smith likes the camaraderie he has with his fellow Marines at the patrol base.
“Being on a smaller (patrol base) definitely brings us closer,” said the fire direction control specialist from Manchester, Pa.
Smith says he feels like working in a smaller group and on a smaller base gives him the opportunity to get to know and build stronger bonds with the Marines there because of the unavoidable constant interaction with each other.
During their down time, the Marines sit around a picnic table outside the combat operations center and talk or watch movies on their laptops. They workout in a makeshift gym. Weight racks, pull up bars and other gym equipment were made from scrap wood.
They get continuous resupplies of water, Meals, Ready-to-Eat and, sometimes, sodas and energy drinks from FOB Delaram II.
The Marines know not to get too comfortable though. Being an early response and first line of defense for FOB Delaram II is a dangerous mission.
“For two and a half weeks, when we first got here, we got shot at every other day, but lately it hasn’t happened too often,” Montgomery said. “We all realize getting shot at is a hazard, but it’s a job we signed up for.”
Editor’s Note: Echo Battery, 2nd Battalion, 10th 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.