Tanks disrupt Helmand enemy activity in known insurgent hotbed

Posted: November 8, 2012 in Daily incidents

By Mustafa Kazemi

COMBAT OUTPOST SHIR GHAZAY, Afghanistan – During a time when insurgents
typically bed down for the winter, Marines and coalition forces engaged
multiple enemy forces during Operation Helmand Viper, Oct. 19 through

Tanks with Bravo Company, 2nd Tank Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 7,
led the support mission for special operations forces. The operation’s
focus was to find and destroy weapons caches, improvised explosive
devices and drug producing facilities. Coalition forces localized their
efforts to Zamindawar, a known insurgent hotbed between Musa Qal’ah and

Marines with Bravo Co., 2nd Tank Bn., along with various supporting
units, convoyed through the night and were prepared to attack by first
light, Oct. 19. By the time the sun had risen to a chilly Afghan
morning, the assault was under way. Throughout the next eight days,
Marines provided sustaining firepower and resupply missions for the
special forces.

“The operation was in support of (a task force) which is an element of
the special operations task force here in Afghanistan,” said Capt.
Matthew Dowden, the commanding officer for Bravo Co., 2nd Tank Bn., from
Moreauville, La. “The objective was to go out and disrupt the insurgent
activities in the area to give the Afghan National Security Forces room
to operate this winter. We provided the sustainment and firepower they
needed to go through some of the areas they were going to be in and have
that staying power they might not typically have.”

Dowden credited the success of the operation to his Marines’ ability to
accomplish the mission at hand.

“Initial indications are that the operation went very well,” Dowden
said. “They found a significant number of both narcotics assets and
production facilities, as well as lethal aid in the forms of weapons and
ammunition. Watching my Marines was a humbling experience. It seems like
every time we go out there’s a challenge that we don’t account for.
There always seems to be something strange and unexpected that pops up.
These guys rise to the challenge and figure this stuff out on the fly
every single time. Their performance was outstanding in an environment
that is extremely austere and remote.”

Since a majority of the insurgents are still in the area, it was
necessary to conduct the operation now as opposed to later in the

“It was a timing thing because this is the back end of the fighting
season where the insurgent fighters are still here and haven’t gone to
spread out and do their poppy production,” Dowden said. “The majority of
the guys they bring in from different places around the region are still
here at this time, but if you wait much later they start to go away and
bed down for the winter. If you want to have the effect you desire you
need to go and do stuff when they’re in the right spot. You want to
basically deny them the ability to have that place to rest their heads
during the winter. If they don’t have those places, then they really
can’t be effective come springtime, and that’s really the end state.”

1st Lt. Robert Paradis, the executive officer for Bravo Co., 2nd Tank
Bn., noted his Marines’ ability to stay calm while being fired upon from

“It was definitely the most kinetic area we’ve been in so far this
deployment,” said Paradis, from Londonderry, N.H. “I think they
responded very well. From what I saw, they were calm, cool and collected
throughout the entire operation. It makes me extremely proud to be able
to see my Marines encounter all these various situations and just react
like Marines should and get the mission done.”


(Cpl. Mark Garcia has contributed to this article)


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