FORWARD OPERATING BASE PAYNE, AFGHANISTAN -- Southern Helmand province used to be a safe haven and stronghold for the insurgency in Afghanistan where the enemy could establish lines of communication and traffic drugs and weapons.
However, the insurgency has been disrupted and forced to find new lines of communication due to Operation Rawhide II. The 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion conducted a series of raids, successfully deterring the enemy and breaking its ability to communicate with insurgents in the north, said Capt. Christopher L. Buck, commanding officer for E Company, 3rd LAR, and native of Perry, Mich.
During the raids, 3rd LAR discovered multiple weapons caches, including one in Chotu which consisted of around $54 million in opium, weapons, and improvised explosive device-making material.
Finding caches like this saves lives and ensures that those weapons will not be used here or up north, which is where the insurgents are sending most of their weapons, said Buck.
3rd LAR’s presence alone has helped disrupt the movement of the insurgency in the south.
“Gone are the days where the insurgents will go toe-to-toe with Marines in a fight,” said 1st Sgt. Tony R. Murchison, E Company first sergeant and native of Raleigh, N.C.
With the Marine presence down here, the insurgency must now establish new lines of communication and go miles out of their way just to get around us, said Murchison.
Marines of 3rd LAR have gone through fields and canals, and over mountains to effectively deter the enemy.
“The Marines have done an outstanding job of relentlessly pursuing the enemy, patrolling their battle space with tactical efficiency and garnering a relationship with the locals,” said Sgt. Maj. John Elliott, sergeant major of 3rd LAR.
At the end of the month, 3rd LAR will begin preparing to transfer authority to 2nd LAR.
Our Marines saved 2nd LAR some headaches, most notably by taking a significant chunk out of the IED network, said Buck.
3rd LAR will return back to 29 Palms, Calif., after the transfer of authority.