FARAH PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Marines and sailors from India Company, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, made its way into the village of Kace Satar, Afghanistan, Nov. 11, with a mission: protect the locals, and gain their trust.
The Marine's of 3/4 believe that providing security and building relationships in these small villages will help disrupt enemy activity in their area of operations.
"The little towns are where most of the Taliban forces come and terrorize the people," said Cpl. Bradley Penn, a section leader with 3/4. "They then have the opportunity to store things [in the towns]. So if we don't go to the little towns, then we won't have the opportunity to find those caches of ordinance they use in [improvised explosive devices] or any weapons systems they may have."
The first of the four patrols headed into the town to visit with the local Afghans after setting up security and performing gear checks.
The Marines took necessary precautions with their route and made sure not to disturb the local farm fields as they carefully navigated their way through the outskirts of the town.
The first patrol, led by Penn, was met by local elders and other villagers upon entering the town.
Following an exchanging of pleasantries, the elders guided the patrol down the village's many dusty pathways, while talking with the Marines about their key concerns which include the village's water shortage.
The second patrol into the city proved a test of the Marine's training.
The Marines had spotted a possible enemy observer on a ridge overlooking the town. Once the patrol's security element confirmed their belief of possible enemy observation, the Marines switched into high gear and surrounded the possible threat.
"I thought worst-case scenario, it could be someone with [binoculars] looking at our patrol, and that he could be a forward observer and maybe [the Taliban] were going to try to [indirect fire] on us," said Cpl. Nic Rodriguez, 22, a vehicle commander with India Co. "The only thing that was going through my head was that I wanted to get my guys up there as soon as possible to see what it was and assess the threat at the time."
The patrol identified the individuals as an Afghan man and some children who were playing in holes they claimed were created by mortars during the Afghan-Soviet War in the 1980s, the platoon's interpreter explained.
The incident allowed the vehicle commander to observe his Marines in a real-life situation in a combat environment.
"There were some good points. The intensity [the Marines] had was amazing, even if it was just someone we thought had [binoculars]. They treated it very professionally," said Rodriguez. "I liked the way I saw the Marines take it seriously."
The Marines and sailors of 1st platoon were ready to return to their forward operating base after the third patrol had concluded, but not before addressing the town's water shortage and determining a possible course of action.
"At that time I began to talk to the village elder, who seemed very happy we were there to help out," said Rodriguez.
The fourth patrol was able to help the village by passing out additional food and water to local children. Once the patrol reached the village center, the Marines distributed all remaining food and water to the local Afghans in need.
"The food and water was a gesture of 'Hey, we're here to help,'" said Penn, from San Antonio.