Echo stops insurgents from impeding on ANP success
Article b y Cpl. Ja mes M. Mercure
Task Force 2d Battalion, 7 th Marine Regiment, Special Purpose
HELMAND PROVINCE, Sangin, Afghanistan – When the Marines here are not busy fighting
against insurgents, the y are spending countless hours patrolling with the Afghan National Police
(ANP) to make it better at effecting cha nge within its o wn co mmunity.
The latter has turned out to be a full-time job for the Marines of Company E, Task Force 2d
Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force Afghanistan, as they
find themselves constantly engaged in firefights against a relentless enemy.
E c h o M a r i n e s a r e i n d e e d i n a s e r i o u s f i g h t – o n e t h e y a r e c o m m i t t e d t o wi n n i n g .
“ E v e r y t i m e t h e T a l i b a n e n g a g e s i n d i r e c t c o n t a c t wi t h E c h o C o m p a n y M a r i n e s , w e m a k e s u r e
they pay a heavy price,” said 1st Lt. Brandon J. Schroder, executive officer and Sunnyvale, Calif.,
native. “We ta ke the fight to the m instead of waiting for it to come to us.”
T hroughout its deplo yment, Echo Co mpa ny has been responsible for conducting full spectr um
operations in a vast area of the Helmand Province . Daily operations include counterinsurgency
o p e r a t i o n s wi t h a f o c u s o n p o l i c e m e n t o r i n g o f t h e A f g h a n N a t i o n a l P o l i c e . A l t h o u g h t h e f o c u s o f
effort re ma ins centered on helping the Afghan people and strengthening the ANP, increased attacks
have resulted in more security patrols as the Marines re ma in vigila nt against a dangerous foe .
“T ask Force 2/7 has a lot of challe nge s, but the one that is tied most to the others is the
enor mous size of o ur area of operations… mor e than 28,000 square kilo meters, or about the size of
Ver mont,” said Lt. Col. Rick Hall , T F 2/7 commanding officer and M ankato, Minn., native . “Ho w do
we over co me this challenge? M y answer is simp le , Marines. We ha ve delegated a treme ndous
a mount of responsibility do wn to the sq uad leader level, and these ver y yo ung Marine s and sa ilors
h a v e p r o v e n t h e m s e l v e s t i m e a n d t i m e a g a i n . I a m c o n t i n u a l l y a m a z e d a n d a l wa y s i m p r e s s e d b y
what they are doing.”
As the Marines carr y o ut the ir duties, the y find the mselve s co mbating ene my forces in an
unfa miliar territor y. Located in one of Afgha nista n’s most re mote a nd austere areas, the compa ny
m u s t c o n d u c t p a t r o l s i n a v a s t , d r y a n d d e s o l a t e a r e a wh e r e t h e e n e m y d o e s n ’ t p l a y b y t h e r u l e s . I n
f a c t , t h e c o m b a t l o s s e s s u f f e r e d h a v e m o s t l y r e s u l t e d f r o m M a r i n e s b e i n g k i l l e d o r wo u n d e d b y I E D s
(improvised explosive devices) the e ne my use s to har m Marines working with the count r y’s police.
W h i l e E c h o C o m p a n y h a s s u r e l y l e f t i t s m a r k h e r e i n A f g h a n i s t a n w i t h i t s c o m b a t p r o we s s ,
the Marines are equally proud of the significant strides they have made in training the ANP. As
more police men are tr ained and serving within their o wn co mmunities, Echo Marines are confident
the y will overco me the T aliban threat.
“When we first go t here the fighting was really bad, but it’s starting to level off,” 1st Lt.
Schroder explained. “T he Afghan Na tional Ar my a nd the ANP are really co ming int o their own , both
in co mbat and with da y -to-da y operations. T he training progra ms we have in place are producing
quality police men. T he ANP ma y be in its infa nc y , but it is continually mo ving in the right
Since it deplo yed to Afgha nistan i n early April, T ask Force 2/7 has achieved a significant
milestone in bringing peace and prosperity to the Afghan people through various civil military
operations projects and by laying down the groundwork necessary for follow -on U.S. forces to
expand on the progress made throughout the H elma nd and Farah provinces.
“Botto m line, we want to give the Afgha n people liberty,” LtCol. Hall said. “We want to
create a safe and prosperous environment where the people willingly accept the newly -trained and
respectable Afghan National Police as a legitimate form of local governance, and to create the
conditions where the people take responsibility for providing their own future.”
Sent to Afgha nista n to support Operation Enduring Freedo m, T F 2/7 has conducted full
spectrum operations, including counterinsurge nc y with a focus on police training a nd me ntoring, in
order to set the conditions for the succe ssful integration and future a ssumptio n of authority by the
ANP and to extend the Government of the Islamic Republic of A fghanistan authority and influence
over security, stability and regional deve lop me nt.
*Photos and captions below*
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Corporal Clarence Smith, an assista nt squad le ader assigned to
Echo Co mpany, T F 2/7 , SPMAGT F Afgha nista n, kneels during a
security halt conducted in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan .
(U.S. Mar ine Corps photo by Lance Cp l. Chad J. Pullia m)
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La nce Cpl. Jeffer y A. Rocha, an infantr yman assigned to Echo Co mp any, T F
2/7, SPMAGTF Afghanist an, climbs to the top of an Afghan National Police
observation post while on patrol in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan .
(U.S. Mar ine Corps photo by Lance Cp l. Chad J. Pullia m)
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Master Sgt. Tanos Chavez, the Explosive Ordnance Disposal
(EOD) tea m chie f attac hed to Echo Co mpany, T F 2/7,
SPMAGTF Afghanistan , is careful of how he handles a piece of
unexploded ordnance found in the Helmand Province of
Afghanistan. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance C pl. Chad J.
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Navy Hospitalman 1 st Class Miguel Meza, a c orpsma n attac hed to Echo
Co mpany, T F 2/7, SPMAGT F Afghanista n, trudges thro ugh water dur ing a
security patrol in the H elma nd Province of Afghanista n . (U.S. Marine Corps
photo by Lance C pl. Chad J. Pullia m)
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Private First Cla ss Steven Behne n , a rifle ma n assigned to Echo Co mp any, T F
2/7, SPMAGT F Afghanistan , sweeps for possible Improvised Explosive
Devices (IEDs) during a patrol in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan . (U.S.
Marine Corps photo by La nce C pl. Chad J. Pullia m)
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La nce Cpl. Bryce J. Ro matoski , a designated marksma n assigned
to Echo Co mpany, T F 2/7, SPMAGT F Afgha nistan , provides
security from the rubble of the Governor's Mansio n while
patrolling the streets of the Sangin District Center in the
Helma nd Province of Afgha nista n , Sept. 16. (U.S. Marine Corps
photo by Lance Cpl. Chad J. Pullia m)
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Lie ute nant Ja me s C. M cKendree, a platoon commander assigned t o Echo
Co mpany, T F 2/7, SPMAGT F Afghanista n , looks out fro m the ru bble of the
Governor's Mansion while patrolling the streets of Sangin District Center in
the Helmand Province of Afghanistan , Sept. 16. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by
Lance Cpl. Chad J. Pulliam)