“During combined arms operations with the Afghan National Army (ANA) and the Afghan National Police (ANP), Lima Company discovers 1500 pounds (lbs) of Green Hash, (5) AK-47 magazines, (2) bolt action rifles, (2) frag grenades, (1) pistol, (12) RPG rounds in the Achin District, Nangarhar Province.” — Source: 3/3 Command Chronology for the Period 01 January to 30 June 2005
Force Lima 3/3 seizes munitions, drugs: America’s Battalion steps up raids in Afghanistan
Submitted by: Combined Joint Task Force – 76
Story by Cpl. Rich Mattingly
KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan (Jan. 19, 2005) — In what proved to be America’s Battalion’s most successful seizure of munitions and drugs to date, Force Lima discovered a large cache of rocket-propelled grenades and 7.62mm ammunition, five kilos of opium and nearly two thousand pounds of hashish in the town of Achin this week.
Operating with information from a local source concerning a possible weapons cache, 1st platoon, Lima Co. swept into Achin in coordination with the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police. After establishing a cordon and security with the Afghan forces, Lima sent in its Marines to do a detailed search of the houses where they suspected the weapons were hidden.
“We entered the compound of the third building and saw several Afghan women gathered in the corner, standing next to a large pile of burlap sacks,” said 1st Lt. Michael Berentson, Lima executive officer. “When we checked one bag, we discovered it was full of hashish,” he continued. “It didn’t take long to realize that all of the bags were full of hashish. We searched the house from there and found more, smaller bags of hash hidden all over the place. All together, we estimate that the bags equaled a little over 1800 pounds in weight.”
The Marines’ find was further increased after Lance Cpl. Justin Raack, one of Lima Company’s attached 81mm mortarmen, shimmied down a 25-ft. tunnel to find the target they were originally looking for, a large cache of RPGs and 7.62mm rounds. Nearly every week, Lima Company’s work has taken significant amounts of arms and ammunition out of the hands of the enemy. Insurgents are well known to hide weapons and explosives in cache sights to be used against Coalition and Afghan government forces at a later date.
After the successful seizure, everyone involved was thrilled with the success of the raid, which again hilighted America’s Battalion’s efforts to work closely with Afghan forces when conducting operations.
“The teamwork between U.S. Marines, Afghan Soldiers and the Afghan National Police is what made this operation such a success,” said Staff Sgt. Vinny Russo, a Lima Co. platoon sergeant. “Having the ANA and ANP at the forefront of these operations lets the Afghan citizens know that their government is serious about drug eradication and eliminating support for terrorists.”
Drug eradication has, in fact, become a significant goal for the Afghan government. President Hamid Karzai pledged to eliminate what has been a large source of income for terrorist groups operating in Afghanistan in his inaugural speech last month in Kabul. The current Coalition policy is that narcotics discovered in the course of conducting security and stability operations are seized and destroyed by Afghan forces.
“The Afghan people are beginning to realize that poppy cultivation and opium production is destroying innocent lives in Afghanistan and around the world,” said 2nd Lt. Erik Muniz, 1st platoon commander.
Afghan forces and 3/3 will continue to conduct joint security and support operations throughout Afghanistan. As Afghan military and police units become increasingly capable of addressing security challenges, the Marines will shift from a primary to a supporting role. For the Marines of America’s Battalion, their ability to do that is a measure of their effectiveness.