Marines and sailors of 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, III Marine Expeditionary Force attacked to disrupt anti-coalition militias during Operation Sorkh Khar (Red Donkey) from Nov. 12 through Nov. 22 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
In the battalion-wide operation Marines, soldiers and sailors teamed with the Afghan National Police and Afghan National Army to enter three separate valleys in a massed effort. The forces established vehicle checkpoints to cordon the areas and prevent the enemy from fleeing. The three valleys, Korengal, Matin and Dewagal (ChowKay), are notorious for enemy activity against coalition forces.
“This is what we do. We train hard as hell, and then we come out here and do whatever we have need to do to find the enemy,” said Sgt. Andrew K. Nguyen, a tube-launched optically-tracked, wire-guided missileman from Corsicana, Texas. “It’s a good thing when we can come out here and do our part against terrorism.”
The onset of winter and the accompanying severe temperature drop usually forces the ACM to limit its activity. Since Marines and sailors are used to operating in freezing temperatures, they capitalized on their capabilities and attacked the insurgents when they were most vulnerable.
“The weather was not as much of a factor as we anticipated. The Marines and sailors of the battalion were well-prepared, and we didn’t spend as much time above the snowline as we were ready to — primarily because the enemy was not up there,” said Lt. Col. J.E. Donnellan, commanding officer of 2nd Bn., 3rd Marines, from Old Bridge, N.J.
Marines detained six enemy personnel and recovered five enemy weapons caches by conducting actions against known enemy ambush sites. After the Marines shifted from cordon and containment operations, they took to the offense by conducting searches and finally by attacking the ACM forces as they attempted to respond. In several situations the enemy did not go quietly. Nine attacks were made against the “Island Warriors” involving small-arms fire or rocket propelled grenades.
“We were attacked, and we relayed a radio message for indirect fire support. The Marines fired their machineguns and M-16s to quickly gain fire superiority and keep the enemy from moving, then it was just a matter of letting artillery do its work,” said 1st Lt. Ryan B. Cohen, platoon commander.
“Overall, Operation Sorkh Khar was a big success. The ‘Island Warriors’ gathered intelligence about the terrain, weather and enemy that will benefit them in future operations in Kunar Province,” Donnellan said. “I’m incredibly proud of the way the battalion performed these past 10 days. It really taxed our flexibility at a lot of levels, from containing the enemy to going on the offensive. The spirit of the Marines and sailors is what enables us to do that.”