Task Force 2/7 raids Taliban headquarters
Article and photos by Cpl. James M. Mercure
Task Force 2d Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix
HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Marines conducted their first major assault on a Taliban headquarters in NowZad, Afghanistan.
The Marines’ major accomplishments of the raid were the destruction of several enemy buildings, fighting positions, IEDs (improvised explosive devices) and the capture of a Taliban fighter.
Although the Marines of Company F, Task Force 2d Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, part of Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix, have operated here in support of Operation Enduring Freedom since early April, this offensive represents TF 2/7’s more prevailing mission of carrying out full spectrum operations with a focus on police training and mentoring the Afghan National Police.
The task force and coalition forces are bringing the fight to the enemy’s doorstep.
“We far exceeded our objectives. Our goal was to just reach the Taliban headquarters, but we actually had the opportunity to exploit it,” Company Gunnery Sgt. Hogan Kindrick said. “We had the opportunity to implode their fighting positions to make them useless to the enemy.”
After various engagements with the enemy, the Marines have learned the Taliban quickly removes its dead and wounded from the scene where the fighting has taken place. But, during this raid, they captured a wounded enemy fighter.
“In my entire time here, I never thought we would capture one of the enemy,” said Capt. Ross Schellhaas, company commander. “After he was detained, we did everything we could to take care of him.”
The enemy prisoner of war had serious head trauma that was treated on site. Once the Marines got the prisoner back to their forward operating base, he was medically evacuated for further treatment.
“You can kill a lot of enemy forces, but when you bring one of theirs back, it hits close to home for them,” said 1st Sgt. Eric W. Rummel, company first sergeant. “Whether they know he’s dead or alive, it doesn’t matter. It’s still a huge blow to their morale.”
To clear the path for the raid, TF 2/7’s combat engineers platoon swept with mine detectors and breached the enemy’s walls with explosives enabling Fox Company to push through and accomplish its mission.
“The enemy knows it can’t match us toe-to-toe in a firefight, so it uses mines and IEDs to try and slow us down and limit our movement,” explained 2nd Lt. Patrick Caffrey, combat engineers platoon commander.
After Fox Company overran the Taliban stronghold, anything useful to the enemy was either destroyed or captured. The Marines then returned to their forward operating base.
“There is a line of enemy troops with bunkers and firing positions. We know where the enemy is and where the supply routes are,” said Capt. Schellhaas, who added that his Marines are very capable of removing the Taliban’s presence in NowZad.
With additional support, the Fox Company commander said his Marines could certainly remove the Taliban’s presence in NowZad.
“Our original mission was to train the ANP, but the mission changed and we’ve adapted to it,” said Lance Cpl. Brandon W. Besendorfer, an infantryman assigned to 1st Platoon. “The Taliban here are trained fighters.
That’s why we need reliable close air support and some additional firepower. That would help us get rid of the Taliban here for good.”
Lance Cpl. Michael Molesta, an infantryman assigned to 1st Platoon, Company F, Task Force 2d Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, climbs to the top of a destroyed building in a Taliban headquarters to post security for his platoon. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. James M. Mercure)