CAMP HANSON, Helmand province, Afghanistan --
The sweltering, afternoon sun stretches across the cloudless, Afghan sky causing sweat to drip from the Marines’ faces. Living in mud compounds and sweltering tents, eating packaged meals-ready-to-eat three times a day, patrolling for hours on end with 100-pound packs – this is the life of a Marine with Company G, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment.
These Marines and sailors have endured firefights and the threat of Improvised Explosive Devices in the area called Trek Nawa for the last seven months. When the company arrived, insurgents had a tight grip on the region and its lush poppy fields that fuel the insurgency. Each push through their area of operations in the early weeks of the deployment was a deliberate movement that incited major firefights with experienced enemy insurgents.
Company G took the three patrol bases they manned and set up eleven more security positions throughout the vicinity as a way to combat the insurgency. The Marines joined forces with Afghan residents and leaders at some of these locations, known as ISCIs, or Interim Security for Critical Infrastructure positions. These ISCIs are made up of local residents who function much like a neighborhood watch. They are also inspected by the district chief of police and the district governor, who take responsibility for the security of the local compounds. The Afghans have the advantage of being familiar with the area and its residents.
“The insurgents have their mobility and their anonymity, and an ISCI takes away their mobility because it takes away their anonymity,” said Willmington, Del., native Chief Warrant Officer 2 James Domorod, the current operations officer for 2/8. “These guys know who is supposed to be in the village.”
Nearly seven months have passed since Company G took over Trek Nawa, and the Marines and sailors are looking forward to their return home, knowing they have made great strides improving security in the region while training Afghan Local Police members to maintain this momentum.
“The insurgency is defeated in Trek Nawa,” said Domorod. “The Marines’ kinetic ability has overwhelmed them, but (the Marines) have also engaged the local populace to get them to no longer harbor the insurgency. The goal is to transfer the security to the (Afghan National Security Forces), and by killing the insurgency, we are now able to focus on developing the Afghan National Army.”
Editor’s note: Second Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, is currently assigned to Regimental Combat Team 1, 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.