Marines Fight Insurgents, Secure Key Intersection on Road to Marjeh
HELMAND PROVINCE, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, 02.09.2010 – Marines and sailors of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, battled Taliban insurgents, Feb. 9, after conducting a successful helicopter-borne assault to seize a key intersection east of the insurgent stronghold city of Marjeh.
The Marines, some carrying more than their body weight in gear, moved toward the center of an area known as "Five Points," an intersection of major roads in western Helmand province, located between the cities of Marjeh and Nawa. The Marines were joined on the assault by their partnered Afghan National Army soldiers who fought alongside them against the Taliban.
"I felt the assault went well," said Capt. Stephan P. Karabin, commanding officer, Charlie Company, 1/3. "We got in here quickly, under the cover of darkness on the helicopters, moved into position, set everything in place and were able to seize the objective. This area is important because it's the one intersection which links northern Marjeh ... to (eastern Helmand province) and it blocks that supply route.
"Marines did their job well here, and some engaged with the enemy for the first time in this deployment," said Karabin, 30, from West Palm Beach, Fla.
The Five Points intersection and surrounding area is also part of the main route from Marjeh to Lashkar Gah, the Helmand provincial capital, said Karabin.
"These roads are very important to our movement within the area of operations," said Karabin.
Not long after Marines established their defensive positions in the area did they observe Taliban fighters approaching from Marjeh. The Taliban immediately began firing their machine guns at the Marines. Marines and ANA soldiers fired back with heavy machine guns, rockets and small-arms fire, wounding and killing several Taliban fighters, forcing them to flee.
Marines took the brief respite to fortify their fighting positions with sandbags and concrete blocks scrounged from the area around them.
"While we were reinforcing our position on a roof, we came under fire again," said Sgt. Stephen Y. Roberts, a 23-year-old assault section leader, Weapons Platoon, Charlie Company, "It was three or four of the same fighters we had seen firing at us earlier."
Roberts responded to the enemy machine-gun fire by launching a Javelin shoulder-fired missile into the position the fighters were firing from, immediately silencing the heavy machine gun. Marine AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters flying the area followed Roberts' fire to strike a volley of heavy machine-gun fire and rockets, putting an end to the engagement.
Charlie Company Marines were joined at Five Points that evening by squads of Marines from Bravo Company, 1/3, having traveled the nine kilometers from Nawa on foot while sweeping for and clearing improvised explosive devices along the road linking the two locations.
The Marines were also joined there today by the 5th Stryker Brigade:
Marines and Taliban insurgents exchanged gunfire Thursday on the outskirts of Marjah, a southern militant stronghold where American and Afghan forces are expected to launch a major attack in the coming days.
To the north, a U.S.-Afghan force led by the U.S. Army's 5th Stryker Brigade linked up with Marines on Thursday, closing off a Taliban escape route to the nearby major city of Lashkar Gah.
No casualties were reported in the scattered clashes, which broke out as Marines moved ever closer to the edge of the farming community of 80,000 people, the linchpin of Taliban influence in the opium poppy producing province of Helmand.
Clearing the way in front of ground troops going into heavily mined areas are the Breachers.