Friday, October 30, 2009

Insurgent Cache Discoverd

While on a two-day mission, Marines of the combined Anti-Armor Team 1 discovered weapons and drugs while conducting searches in Afghanistan. The cache contained more that a 1000 rounds of ammunition, 50 pounds of heroin, cocaine, and homemade explosives that could be used as IED’s. The compounds around this village were believed to be used by the Taliban. According to 1st Lt. Travis C Onischuk, the mission was to deny the enemy the ability to use compounds in the area to launch attacks and plant IEDs in the near by road. He says they are going to hit them where they think they have safe haven. Marines of the Combined Anit-Armor Team 1 and Weapons Company joined forces and cleared the road and villages looking for insurgents. Along the way, the Marines set up vehicle checkpoints. At the same time, units started conducting house-to-house searches. The Marines, with the help Afghan National Army, were looking for weapons and IED-making materials. While conducting the searches, three fully loaded assault rifle magazines were found. On the initial search, these magazines were the only suspicious things. Nevertheless, they were suspicious enough to warrant another search of the house. On the second search of the house, a young corporal started tapping on the walls to see if they were hollow. Soon enough, he came across a section of the wall that made a much different sound. Behind these false walls, many weapons and drugs were found. The owner of the house was taken into custody, for questioning, by the Afghan National Army. He was believed to be a member of the Taliban or sympathetic to the Taliban. The Corporal is glad that they were able to find some dangerous thing and hoped that they made a difference in the area by confiscating the weapons and drugs. Click Here For the Full Story

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Different Kind of Fight

With the United States Marine’s job in Iraq coming to a close, there is a lot of gear and equipment still in the outpost and forward operating bases. Marine units currently deployed are now tasked with decreasing the amount of gear in the outposts so it can be sent back to the United States to be repaired and returned to the front line in other parts of the world. So far, 4th Platoon, Transportation Support Company, has completely closed down one combat outpost. They have also significantly reduced the amount of equipment in many other forward operating bases spread out through the Western Anbar Province. “We support every forward operating base and combat outpost in the western area of operation,” said by1st Lt. Jonathan Babineau, the platoon commander. “This applies to both resupply and retrograde support.” The platoon operates by conducting operations that resupply forward operating bases with the necessities such as food and water. After the platoon resupplies the base, they take some of the unnecessary, broken or outdated equipment. The returned gear is then sent back to Al Asad Air Base or Cm Al Taqaddum for further repair and retrograde. “Everything we do is in anticipation for when we have to completely withdraw from the bases,” Babineau said. “When word comes down that a base needs to be cleared there should be so little gear and equipment left that the process runs smoothly.” With the decrease in organized attacks from insurgents and the improvement in the Iraqi Army and Police Forces ability to control their own country, the US forces can concentrate on other things. “It’s a different fight now,” Babineau said. “We are now focused on withdrawing troops and equipment from most areas and turning over the bases to the Iraqi Army.” The reduction of most nonessential gear is an indication that the US is steadily withdrawing from Iraq.Click Here For the Full Story

Friday, October 16, 2009

Recruiting Gains Across the Board

During the fiscal year of 2009 all active and reserve branches met or exceeded both their numeric and quality recruiting goals. This is the first time this has happened in the 36 years that the United States Military has been an all-volunteer force. The Pentagon also reported that the retention of personal was also very successful in all of the branches. These gains have been thought to been connected to the slumping economy and an increased spending on recruiting. Enlistment bonus could also be a cause as well. Since about 40 percent of recruits received some sort of bonus for enlisting. The quality of recruits has also increased this year. The Army, for example, improved over 11 percent in the amount of its recruits being high school graduates. More specifically, the Army improved from 83 percent last year to 94.7 percent this year. The Air Force and Marine Corps lead the other services with 99 percent of recruits having a high school diploma. All the services combined have a 96 percent average compared to the national average of 75 percent of teen-agers graduating. From studies done by John Warner and Curtis Simon of Clemson University it has been estimated that for every 10 percent increase in unemployment, that in turn leads to a 3 to 4 percent increase in high-quality enlistment. Warner says there is also another study that suggests that there is a 5 percent increase. The recruiting goals of fiscal 2009 was met or surpassed by every branch. Overall, the department of defense met 103 percent of its recruiting goal. This was led by the Army with 108 percent of it goal being met and followed by the other 3 branches each meeting 100 percent of its goal. The reserve branches exceeded their goals even more. All the reserve branches combined met 104 percent of their goal. The reserve category was lead by the Marine Corps Reserve with meeting 122 percent of its goal.Click Here for the Full Story

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Combat Engineers Provide Peace of Mind for Afghans

Ever since the first raid in July on the Lakari Bazaar in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan, which turned up thousands of pounds of bomb making materials and drugs, the Taliban has continued to use it as a staging area. From this staging area, the Taliban has conducted more than 20 attacks on coalition troops in the vicinity from there. In an effort to combat this, more that 300 British troops conducted a second raid on the bazaar. In the raid they received fire from enemy positions and the threats were soon eliminated. To make sure the Taliban does not reclaim the bazaar again after the troops withdraw again. US Marine combat engineers constructed a patrol base less that one-mile away from the bazaar. After it is done being constructed, Afghan National Army soldiers and Marines will occupy the basses in an attempt to disrupt Taliban activity. “The base will give (2/8 Marines) an opportunity to project their influence on the Lakari market,” said platoon commander 2nd Lt. Mark H. Tetzel. Construction of the base started at 2 am when they arrived from their operating base for than 40 kilometers away. In order to give the base more protection from vehicle born IEDs, a 13-foot tall dirt berm was constructed around the compound around an already existing wall to create a standoff area. Building these posts and bases in the middle of towns and open desert takes a lot of moving parts. This build alone used the efforts of several units. Two Combined Anti-Armor Teams and Marines lead the 37-vehicle engineer convoy from their operating base. At the convoy’s tail, 60 Afghan National Army troops in vehicles provided rear security. Throughout the engineers’ deployment, they’ve built four observation posts, seven combat outposts of various sizes, and three patrol bases in Helmand province. After about 60 nonstop hours of working, the engineers completed the build next to the bazaar. After completion the Marines moved into the base with some afghan army soldiers in attempt to give other local Afghan people the freedom to shop and sell at the bazaar without the fear of the Taliban. Click Here For Story

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A Tough and Dirty Job for the Marines

In the Nimruz Province of Afghanistan, Marines of the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment have been searching ancient tunnels. These tunnels form a network between the snow-capped tops of the Buji Bhast Mountains and the very arid desert in the Nimruz Province. Most adventure junkies would love to have the opportunity to explore these tunnels. Although it is as far from fun as you could get for the Marines with the possibility of stumbling over an explosive set to be triggered. For the last couple years, insurgents have been using these tunnels as a form of secretive transportation and storage of materials that could make the very deadly IED’s, or improvised explosive devices. The Marines are putting a stop to this secret advantage the insurgents have had for many years. While searching the tunnels the Marines have found weapons, dwelling and trash. It is with out a doubt that the insurgents are using these tunnels to their advantage. Collapsing the tunnels would be the easiest thing to inhibit the insurgent’s use of them. Although that is out of the picture because that would severely affect farmers’ irrigation systems. That means the only way to deter the insurgents use of the tunnels is to search them personally or with a robot. These tunnels are wet, completely dark and range from 40 to 100 feet underground. A robot is used when it is too unsafe for a Marine to search the tunnels. The robots have has varying degrees of success searching the tunnels. "Yesterday we sent the bot into three holes. In the first one it could only go in about eight feet, so we had to go in, retrieve it and investigate on foot," said Markbot operator Cpl. Garrett Andrews the day after a series of tunnel hunts. "Later we sent the bot down but didn't see any man-made passages." The tunnel investigations also help with the programs to decrease the dependency of poppy growth to the economy of Afghanistan. The Marines can determine which wells will be irrigating which fields before the growing season starts. That way the government may have the ability to convince the farmers to grow something else. The government has been distributing bags of wheat starting last growing season. Click Here For the Full Story