FIRE BASE FIDDLERS GREEN, Helmand province, Afghanistan --
The Marines of Charlie Battery, 1st Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, are always on call. At any moment coalition units in the area could call for fire support, and the artillerymen must be ready day and night.
“We get fire missions at any time,” said Cleveland native Staff Sgt. Dawud Hakim, a platoon sergeant with Charlie Battery, 1/12. “You stop everything. There is nothing more important than a fire mission. Whatever you are doing, it’s going to stop. You’re in the (bathroom), everything stops; eating chow, you just drop everything and move.”
These Marines fight a different fight. They are rarely called upon to patrol in the fields and farmlands of Helmand province; rather their fight resides right on the gun line within their base. They know lives are on the line when they receive a request for fire, and the weight of making sure they send rounds accurately downrange falls squarely on their shoulders. They live feet from their M777 howitzer artillery cannons to ensure swift and timely movement to their weapons at a moment’s notice, but in between missions, they still make time to enjoy the little things that make life here agreeable.
The Marines spend their time watching movies, completing online courses through the Marine Corps Institute, reading or playing video games during their down time. The fire base also has a Morale, Welfare and Recreation center where the Marines and sailors can chat online with friends and family back in the United States. They also perform routine duties to maintain the cleanliness of the base and maintain its facilities.
The Marines must be ever-vigilant, however, regardless of the day’s activities: while performing routine duties, in the middle of a meal, during a coveted conversation with a family member, or even while taking a shower. If the call for fire support comes, they must answer it.
Editor’s note: First Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, is currently assigned to 2nd 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.