Story and photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew Snodgrass
NAD’ALI DISTRICT, Afghanistan — Marines with J Company, 42 Commando launched Operation Zamrod Pak 10 to clear a key route between Loy Mandeh Kalay in Northern Nad‘Ali District to the Helmand provincial capital at Lashkar Gah, July 2-8.
The operation cleared improvised explosive devices and reduced insurgent activity along the route, which is a vital access for coalition forces and locals into the capital.
“We were able to clear [the route] of 12 IEDs between the two cities,” said Maj. Aaron Fisher, a Paisley, Scotland, native, and J Company’s officer commanding. “This increases our troops’ and the Afghan nationals’ mobility along this route.”
“We provided protection for the combat engineers to eliminate the IEDs, so they could clear the route,” he said.
The commandos patrolled on foot each day of the operation, moving from village to village, securing each as they passed. The Marines’ were responsible for providing security for the Royal Engineer clearance and destroyer teams who actually disposed of IEDs encountered en route.
In addition to sweeping the area for enemy activity and IEDs, the commandos held several shuras, or councils, with local Afghan elders to gather information about the needs and disposition of the local populace.
“We took count of who was living where in order to get an accurate record of the population,” said Fisher. “We also gathered information on what the Afghans needed for their villages and talked about whether we could help.”
During these meetings the Marines also learned about insurgent activity. While the commandos did not kill any enemy fighters directly, the mission did result in two insurgent casualties.
“Two insurgents were killed as they attempted to remove IEDs before they could be found by our Marines,” said Fisher. “They were trying to hide them so they could be used at a later time.”
“We completed the mission we came here to do,” said Sgt. Maj. Andy Place, a Plymouth, England, native, and J Company’s sergeant major. “We’re making steady progress and properly managing the results of the missions. This was just another step in the right direction.”
With the route through Loy Mandeh Kalay more secure in the wake of the operation, 42 Commando will continue their current pattern of missions which includes Afghan Security Force and regional development missions in Nad’Ali District.
More photos can be viewed here.