Photo Information

The 35th commandant of the Marine Corps, General James F. Amos, the 17th sergeant major of the Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Micheal P. Barrett, and staff, board a Ch-53 Sea Stallion helicopter at Camp Leatherneck, Helmand province, Afghanistan, Nov. 24, 2011. These leaders traveled to Afghanistan to visit deployed service members throughout Regional Command (West) and Regional Command (Southwest) for the Thanksgiving holiday. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Mallory S. VanderSchans/Released)

Photo by Sgt. Mallory VanderSchans

Marines engage enemy across Helmand River

30 Jan 2012 | Lance Cpl. Daniel Wetzel

Over the past five years, coalition forces have operated with Afghan National Security Forces to defeat insurgent activity in the central Helmand River valley. Driven from the populated green zones of districts in southern Helmand, enemy fighters have sought refuge in bed-down locations west of the Helmand River.

Marines with 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment crossed this river into Kajaki Sofia, Afghanistan and made enemy contact Dec. 3 as part of Operation Western Storm.

Marines were heading into uncharted territory.

We knew it was going to be kinetic, said a Marine with 2nd Platoon, Weapons Company, 1/6. We didnt know how kinetic until we actually got here.

When the Marines arrived, they pushed two or three patrols daily and engaged the enemy just as frequently.

You replay it in your mind over and over again, the same Marine said. It was a pretty rough day, our guys are still feeling it and the very next day we put them right back out on a patrol.

Operation Western Storm paved the way for Operation Tageer Shamal (Shifting Winds) where Marines teamed up with Afghan National Army to provide security for Afghan civilians in the area.

In the village of Kartaka, an elder thanked Marines for their visit, saying it was the first time a coalition forces commander visited the village over the last decade of conflict.

Marines continue to improve relations with Afghan military and civilians as they continue to push farther west.

Click here to see video of Marines engaging the enemy in Operation Western Storm.

Headquarters Marine Corps