Showing 11 posts tagged Sangin

Not quite gone.
Marines with 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, Regimental Combat Team 6, relax while waiting to return home after a seven-month deployment, Sept. 25, 2012. The battalion deployed to Sangin, Afghanistan, during the summer fighting season.
(Photo by Corporal Timothy Lenzo, 25 SEP 2012.) High-res

Not quite gone.

Marines with 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, Regimental Combat Team 6, relax while waiting to return home after a seven-month deployment, Sept. 25, 2012. The battalion deployed to Sangin, Afghanistan, during the summer fighting season.

(Photo by Corporal Timothy Lenzo, 25 SEP 2012.)

Three U.S. Soldiers Killed by Afghan Police in Helmand

LASHKAR GHAR, Afghanistan (Reuters, via NY Times) - An Afghan police commander and several of his men killed three U.S. soldiers in the southern province of Helmand, turning guns on them after inviting them to a dinner to discuss security, Afghan officials said on Friday.

The men were all American special forces members and were killed on Thursday night while attending a meeting in the Sarwan Qala area, in what appeared to be a planned attack by rogue Afghan forces.

"During dinner, the police commander and his colleagues shot them and then fled. The commander was Afghan National Police in charge of local police in Sangin," a senior Afghan official told Reuters on condition of anonymity. Sangin is a district.

"It looks like he had drawn up a plan to kill them previously," the official said.

A spokeswoman for NATO-led forces in the country confirmed the incident but said it was too early to say whether it was a rogue shooting or due to insurgent infiltration.

"All we know is that they were killed by an Afghan in a uniform of some sort," the spokeswoman said.

So-called green on blue shootings, in which Afghan police or soldiers turn their guns on their Western colleagues, have seriously eroded trust between the allies as NATO combat soldiers prepare to hand over to Afghan forces by 2014, after which most foreign forces will leave the country.

According to NATO, there have been 24 such attacks on foreign troops since January in which 28 people have been killed, not including Thursday’s attack. Last year, there were 21 attacks in which 35 people were killed.

Another foreign soldier was killed in the south on Friday during an insurgent attack, NATO said, while seven civilians were killed and three were wounded by an insurgent roadside bomb, also in Helmand.

In a grim 24 hours for the NATO-led force, three U.S. soldiers and an American aid worker were killed earlier on Thursday in the eastern province of Kunar in an attack by a suicide bomber.

(Additional reporting by Rob Taylor and Mirwais Harooni; Writing by Rob Taylor; Editing by Robert Birsel)

★K.I.A.★ US Navy Hospitalman Eric D. Warren. 26 May 2012. OEF.

Died of wounds received in action due to an improvised explosive device blast in Sangin District, Helmand Province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 6, 1st Marine Division (Forward), I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), Camp Lejeune, N.C.

[Source.]

U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Larry Thompson with Police Advisor Team 3-2, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 6 takes part in a patrol in Sangin, Helmand province, Afghanistan. The team patrolled to maintain security in the area.
(Photo by Lance Corporal Sean Searfus, 21 May 2012 via DVIDS.) High-res

U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Larry Thompson with Police Advisor Team 3-2, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 6 takes part in a patrol in Sangin, Helmand province, Afghanistan. The team patrolled to maintain security in the area.

(Photo by Lance Corporal Sean Searfus, 21 May 2012 via DVIDS.)

From the award-winning photoset "Afghanistan, Military" by David Gilkey, NPR. 
The Men from Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, from Camp Pendleton California, are based at Patrol Base Fires in the lush farm fields of Sangin District in the Helmand River Valley in southern Afghanistan. Sangin district is riddled with improvised explosive devices (IED’s) and has come to be known as the most dangerous areas of ISAF operations in Afghanistan. High-res

From the award-winning photoset "Afghanistan, Military" by David Gilkey, NPR. 

The Men from Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, from Camp Pendleton California, are based at Patrol Base Fires in the lush farm fields of Sangin District in the Helmand River Valley in southern Afghanistan. Sangin district is riddled with improvised explosive devices (IED’s) and has come to be known as the most dangerous areas of ISAF operations in Afghanistan.

Hard-bitten Battalion Heading Home.
[Story and photo by Corporal James Clark, 20 January 2012.]
1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment was split across three distinctly different areas of operation. Charlie Company was in Marjah, reinforcing Marine and Afghan forces operating in the city’s remaining troubled regions. Alpha Company was in Sangin District, where they supported the 3rd and later, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion. During Operation Eastern Storm, Headquarters, Bravo and Weapons companies secured route 611, which runs through Kajaki Sofla, an area that had long been a safe haven for insurgent sub-commanders and for arms and drug trafficking.
KAJAKI SOFLA, Afghanistan - With three deployments in three years, the men of 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment were called upon to serve as the tip of the spear for large scale offensive operations across Afghanistan’s contentions Helmand Province.During months of heavy fighting in Garmsir, Afghanistan in 2008, the men of 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment put their moniker ‘1/6 HARD,’ to the test and came through the other side, battered, but unbroken. In 2009, during the helicopter-borne insertion into the Taliban-held city of Marjah, the Marines of 1/6, disembarked tilt-rotor aircraft as vibrant-red tracer rounds zigzagged across the skyline. For weeks they fought their way across muddy fields, amidst accurate small arms and indirect fire, and for several months, waged a deliberate counterinsurgency campaign in order to garner local support for Afghan National Security and Coalition forces. On their current deployment, the battalion was split across three distinctly different areas of operation, explained Capt. Brandon Turner, operation’s officer, 1/6. Charlie Company returned to Marjah, reinforcing Marine and Afghan forces operating in the city’s remaining troubled regions. Alpha Company moved to the Sangin District, where they supported the 3rd and later, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion. During Operation Eastern Storm, Headquarters, Bravo and Weapons companies secured route 611, which runs through Kajaki Sofla, an area that had long been a safe haven for insurgent sub-commanders and for arms and drug trafficking.“Within this [area of operations] itself, just length-wise along route 611, we’re spread out,” Turner said. “Each platoon within a company has a large portion of the [area] and not a lot of interaction with battalion, and even the company itself.“The platoon commanders, platoon sergeant and squad leaders are left to carry out the battalion commander’s intent, without ever hearing it from his mouth. We really have to trust what we’re hearing over the radio and go back to the basics,” said Turner, adding that each member of the unit, from the top down has been required to follow through with their assigned task, with minimal direction. Over the course of their last three deployments to Afghanistan, junior personnel within the battalion have taken on more and more responsibilities as their experience with both heavy combat and counterinsurgency doctrine deepens.“There is an enormous amount of experience our Marines have to offer in this type of environment,” said Sgt. Maj. Larry Harrington, battalion sergeant major, 1/6. “Small units thrive on the wisdom and knowledge of the experienced Marines within their unit. It is amazing the amount of trust we put into our young Marines. One second they’re fighting a four man team of insurgents and then within the next five minutes they’re shaking hands with a town elder. They get it. Although times are not always easy, they get what is going on and what is required of them. I’m so very impressed with what they have accomplished over the last seven months.”After the heavy fighting of Operation Eastern Storm, the Marines of 1/6 set about building rapport with the civilian populace, supporting Afghan National Security forces, and establishing security across the area. This required the men on the ground to very quickly change their perspective and approach – forcing them to toe that line between peacekeeper and warrior.“They understand a negative action could result in a negative reaction,” said Harrington. “They have worked extremely hard to mitigate any chance of negative impacts. We have made mistakes, but in the process we have learned from them and we continue to do the right thing to make a positive impact for our Marines and the local populace.”With the end of their deployment nearing, the Marines look down from their patrol bases built into the dusty brown mountainside, into the valley of Kajaki Sofla, and see an area in a time of renewal. Just a few months ago, an area riddled with improvised explosive devices and pockmarked with insurgent fighting positions now has schools being constructed, roads and irrigation canals being repaired, and a steady stream of traffic running along route 611. High-res

Hard-bitten Battalion Heading Home.

[Story and photo by Corporal James Clark, 20 January 2012.]

1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment was split across three distinctly different areas of operation. Charlie Company was in Marjah, reinforcing Marine and Afghan forces operating in the city’s remaining troubled regions. Alpha Company was in Sangin District, where they supported the 3rd and later, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion. During Operation Eastern Storm, Headquarters, Bravo and Weapons companies secured route 611, which runs through Kajaki Sofla, an area that had long been a safe haven for insurgent sub-commanders and for arms and drug trafficking.

KAJAKI SOFLA, Afghanistan - With three deployments in three years, the men of 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment were called upon to serve as the tip of the spear for large scale offensive operations across Afghanistan’s contentions Helmand Province.

During months of heavy fighting in Garmsir, Afghanistan in 2008, the men of 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment put their moniker ‘1/6 HARD,’ to the test and came through the other side, battered, but unbroken. 

In 2009, during the helicopter-borne insertion into the Taliban-held city of Marjah, the Marines of 1/6, disembarked tilt-rotor aircraft as vibrant-red tracer rounds zigzagged across the skyline. For weeks they fought their way across muddy fields, amidst accurate small arms and indirect fire, and for several months, waged a deliberate counterinsurgency campaign in order to garner local support for Afghan National Security and Coalition forces. 

On their current deployment, the battalion was split across three distinctly different areas of operation, explained Capt. Brandon Turner, operation’s officer, 1/6. Charlie Company returned to Marjah, reinforcing Marine and Afghan forces operating in the city’s remaining troubled regions. Alpha Company moved to the Sangin District, where they supported the 3rd and later, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion. During Operation Eastern Storm, Headquarters, Bravo and Weapons companies secured route 611, which runs through Kajaki Sofla, an area that had long been a safe haven for insurgent sub-commanders and for arms and drug trafficking.

“Within this [area of operations] itself, just length-wise along route 611, we’re spread out,” Turner said. “Each platoon within a company has a large portion of the [area] and not a lot of interaction with battalion, and even the company itself.

“The platoon commanders, platoon sergeant and squad leaders are left to carry out the battalion commander’s intent, without ever hearing it from his mouth. We really have to trust what we’re hearing over the radio and go back to the basics,” said Turner, adding that each member of the unit, from the top down has been required to follow through with their assigned task, with minimal direction. 

Over the course of their last three deployments to Afghanistan, junior personnel within the battalion have taken on more and more responsibilities as their experience with both heavy combat and counterinsurgency doctrine deepens.

“There is an enormous amount of experience our Marines have to offer in this type of environment,” said Sgt. Maj. Larry Harrington, battalion sergeant major, 1/6. “Small units thrive on the wisdom and knowledge of the experienced Marines within their unit. It is amazing the amount of trust we put into our young Marines. One second they’re fighting a four man team of insurgents and then within the next five minutes they’re shaking hands with a town elder. They get it. Although times are not always easy, they get what is going on and what is required of them. I’m so very impressed with what they have accomplished over the last seven months.”

After the heavy fighting of Operation Eastern Storm, the Marines of 1/6 set about building rapport with the civilian populace, supporting Afghan National Security forces, and establishing security across the area. This required the men on the ground to very quickly change their perspective and approach – forcing them to toe that line between peacekeeper and warrior.

“They understand a negative action could result in a negative reaction,” said Harrington. “They have worked extremely hard to mitigate any chance of negative impacts. We have made mistakes, but in the process we have learned from them and we continue to do the right thing to make a positive impact for our Marines and the local populace.”

With the end of their deployment nearing, the Marines look down from their patrol bases built into the dusty brown mountainside, into the valley of Kajaki Sofla, and see an area in a time of renewal. Just a few months ago, an area riddled with improvised explosive devices and pockmarked with insurgent fighting positions now has schools being constructed, roads and irrigation canals being repaired, and a steady stream of traffic running along route 611.

Oh, you pulled an all-nighter for your finals. That’s nice.
Mile ten, let’s go again.
A Marine with Company A, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, takes part in counterinsurgency operations in the Sangin District, limiting support for an insurgency with longstanding ties to local communities.
(Photo by Corporal James Clark, 30 November 2011.) High-res

Oh, you pulled an all-nighter for your finals. That’s nice.

Mile ten, let’s go again.

A Marine with Company A, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, takes part in counterinsurgency operations in the Sangin District, limiting support for an insurgency with longstanding ties to local communities.

(Photo by Corporal James Clark, 30 November 2011.)

Corporal Matthew Chen and Lance Cpl. Joshua Smejkal, reconnaissance Marines with 3rd Platoon, Company C, 3rd Recon Battalion, have seen the challenges of battle firsthand and use lessons learned through their fight to prepare for what’s next.
(Photo and article excerpt by Staff Sergeant Ryan Smith, 26 November 2011. Combat Outpost Alcatraz, Helmand Province, Afghanistan.)

Together they recall one of their first engagements of this deployment. On July 10, their squad was patrolling through the Potay area of the Upper Sangin Valley. “We were patrolling through this creek bed that opens up to a courtyard,” said Smejkal, a Villa Park, Ill. native. “I am running point at this time and about to turn down an alleyway when we hear this huge explosion. My heart stopped immediately and I turned around because I thought one of my guys had stepped on a bomb that I missed. All of a sudden I hear everybody’s up, then someone says ‘it was a frag.’“I then hear my team leader yell ‘frag out’ and we hear another boom. Me and Cpl. Chen just looked at each other and it’s like we knew what the other one was thinking. So we started pushing down the alley way,” said the 2009 graduate of Villa Park High School.The two Marines began moving up the alley way with Chen on the right side and Smejkal on the left. Their movements mirrored each other as they cleared the alley. The end of the alley branched into an intersecting path and opened up to a small courtyard with a three-foot wall in the center. The two Marines post security as they wait for the rest of the team to join them.“Smejkal was turned around to check to see if our guys were coming up on our six,” said Chen, who hails from Elk Grove, Ill. “I told him to turn around and make sure we secure the area in front of us. As soon as I turned back around, I just see these seven guys walking up about 30 meters from us on the other side of the wall.“Out of instinct…I don’t know what it was…maybe the adrenaline pumping, I yelled for the men to stop,” said Chen, a 2003 graduate of Lincoln’s Challenge Academy in Champaign, Ill. “They looked at me like ‘what is he saying,’ then all of a sudden one of them pulls up and AK-47 on the other side of the wall.“As soon as he drew up his AK, I drew up my (Semi-Automatic Sniper System) and I just saw a flash,” said Chen. The insurgents began firing at the two Marines. With enemy bullets whizzing by, rounds began hitting the walls around them, spewing chunks of mud into the faces of the Marines. “The AK fire was kicking up so much dust from the wall, I couldn’t even see (the insurgents) so I aimed in on where I could see the muzzle flash and I began shooting.”According to Chen, the sniper rifle he was firing sounds like a cannon when it fires and after one shot, the muzzle break was so horrible the Marines were both blinded in a cloud of dust. Finally the dust settled. The squad automatic weapon gunner was next and began firing to suppress the enemy while Chen began to reload his magazine. Soon after, the Marines pulled back out of the alley way as the firing ceased. The Marines found an empty compound and set up a security perimeter in the immediate area. Chen climbed to the rooftop and sighted in on the short wall where he had encountered the insurgents.“We just saw some brass casings laying there along with a pair of sandals on the ground; they must have ran out,” said Chen. “It was just the moment as they stopped and looked at us and I looked at them, the moment of shock that we ran into them in this alley way. That was the closest engagement probably anyone’s been in; it was only about 25 meters or so.”The boom of one grenade led the Marines into this engagement. It turned out the insurgents didn’t know the Marines’ location when they fired.“We found out after this the insurgents had a 30mm grenade launcher attached to their AK,” said Chen. “They were just shooting to see if we would begin engaging back.”In the aftermath of this firefight, Chen and Smejkal reevaluated some of their techniques and have learned from what happened that day.“We definitely take (alley ways) a lot slower and a lot more serious now. We never thought we would run into them that close,” said Chen. “The way I look at alley ways and every patrol now is I just keep in mind that we could get closely engaged so I’m ready to drop and start sprinting to movement and ready to fire. I was not ready for that one at all.”

High-res

Corporal Matthew Chen and Lance Cpl. Joshua Smejkal, reconnaissance Marines with 3rd Platoon, Company C, 3rd Recon Battalion, have seen the challenges of battle firsthand and use lessons learned through their fight to prepare for what’s next.

(Photo and article excerpt by Staff Sergeant Ryan Smith, 26 November 2011. Combat Outpost Alcatraz, Helmand Province, Afghanistan.)


Together they recall one of their first engagements of this deployment. On July 10, their squad was patrolling through the Potay area of the Upper Sangin Valley. 

“We were patrolling through this creek bed that opens up to a courtyard,” said Smejkal, a Villa Park, Ill. native. “I am running point at this time and about to turn down an alleyway when we hear this huge explosion. My heart stopped immediately and I turned around because I thought one of my guys had stepped on a bomb that I missed. All of a sudden I hear everybody’s up, then someone says ‘it was a frag.’

“I then hear my team leader yell ‘frag out’ and we hear another boom. Me and Cpl. Chen just looked at each other and it’s like we knew what the other one was thinking. So we started pushing down the alley way,” said the 2009 graduate of Villa Park High School.

The two Marines began moving up the alley way with Chen on the right side and Smejkal on the left. Their movements mirrored each other as they cleared the alley. The end of the alley branched into an intersecting path and opened up to a small courtyard with a three-foot wall in the center. The two Marines post security as they wait for the rest of the team to join them.

“Smejkal was turned around to check to see if our guys were coming up on our six,” said Chen, who hails from Elk Grove, Ill. “I told him to turn around and make sure we secure the area in front of us. As soon as I turned back around, I just see these seven guys walking up about 30 meters from us on the other side of the wall.

“Out of instinct…I don’t know what it was…maybe the adrenaline pumping, I yelled for the men to stop,” said Chen, a 2003 graduate of Lincoln’s Challenge Academy in Champaign, Ill. “They looked at me like ‘what is he saying,’ then all of a sudden one of them pulls up and AK-47 on the other side of the wall.

“As soon as he drew up his AK, I drew up my (Semi-Automatic Sniper System) and I just saw a flash,” said Chen. The insurgents began firing at the two Marines. With enemy bullets whizzing by, rounds began hitting the walls around them, spewing chunks of mud into the faces of the Marines. “The AK fire was kicking up so much dust from the wall, I couldn’t even see (the insurgents) so I aimed in on where I could see the muzzle flash and I began shooting.”

According to Chen, the sniper rifle he was firing sounds like a cannon when it fires and after one shot, the muzzle break was so horrible the Marines were both blinded in a cloud of dust. Finally the dust settled. The squad automatic weapon gunner was next and began firing to suppress the enemy while Chen began to reload his magazine. Soon after, the Marines pulled back out of the alley way as the firing ceased. The Marines found an empty compound and set up a security perimeter in the immediate area. Chen climbed to the rooftop and sighted in on the short wall where he had encountered the insurgents.

“We just saw some brass casings laying there along with a pair of sandals on the ground; they must have ran out,” said Chen. “It was just the moment as they stopped and looked at us and I looked at them, the moment of shock that we ran into them in this alley way. That was the closest engagement probably anyone’s been in; it was only about 25 meters or so.”

The boom of one grenade led the Marines into this engagement. It turned out the insurgents didn’t know the Marines’ location when they fired.

“We found out after this the insurgents had a 30mm grenade launcher attached to their AK,” said Chen. “They were just shooting to see if we would begin engaging back.”

In the aftermath of this firefight, Chen and Smejkal reevaluated some of their techniques and have learned from what happened that day.

“We definitely take (alley ways) a lot slower and a lot more serious now. We never thought we would run into them that close,” said Chen. “The way I look at alley ways and every patrol now is I just keep in mind that we could get closely engaged so I’m ready to drop and start sprinting to movement and ready to fire. I was not ready for that one at all.”

Lance Cpl. Kowshon Ye, a Marine Corps combat videographer with 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, Regimental Combat Team 8, plays with a kitten after conducting a raid in the village of Sareagar in Sangin, Afghanistan. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Seaman Jordan Baker, 13 August 2011.) High-res

Lance Cpl. Kowshon Ye, a Marine Corps combat videographer with 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, Regimental Combat Team 8, plays with a kitten after conducting a raid in the village of Sareagar in Sangin, Afghanistan. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Seaman Jordan Baker, 13 August 2011.)