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Afghan sunrise for US Marines flying into battle

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest started a topic Afghan sunrise for US Marines flying into battle

    Afghan sunrise for US Marines flying into battle

    By Ben Sheppard 5 hours ago

    CAMP DWYER, Afghanistan (AFP) In the cool of an Afghan desert just before daybreak, 300 US Marines rustled in sleeping bags beside a helicopter pad as the wake-up orders were whispered from man to man.

    Dawn broke over Camp Dwyer in southern Afghanistan, and Fox and Echo company of the 2/8 Infantry Battalion were quickly up and ready for the biggest Marine operation since the second battle of Fallujah in Iraq in 2004.

    Loaded up with backpacks, rifles and water, the men lined up to board grey CH-53 helicopters taking them behind enemy lines in Taliban-held territory of the Helmand River valley.

    A few hugged each other, but the atmosphere was business-like and restrained. Men fussed and patted a couple of Labradors that would be used to sniff out explosives.

    As the first of the helicopters took off, billowing dust into the low sun, Brigadier General Larry Nicholson, commander of Operation Khanjar -- which means a double-edged dagger in Dari and Pashtu -- arrived to wish his men well.

    Shaking hands and chewing gum, he looked focused but relaxed.

    "I've been flying all night from place to place," he told AFP. "I've got staff back at the base that allow me to move around. Anyone in my position now just hopes they have made all the right decisions.

    "1/5 (Infantry Battalion) went into Nawa cleanly and quietly this morning. So far, we have picked the right spots to go into."

    The eight helicopters involved in the lift from Camp Dwyer -- just one small part of the overall operation -- kept their rotor blades churning as they waited on the tarmac.

    With a simple hand wave, each line of men was given the "go" signal and walked briskly to the choppers and through the back doors. Within minutes, they had disappeared into the desert haze.

    "I told my men everything they have done to prepare for this operation means they are ready to go," said Captain Junwei Sun, 39, commanding officer of 2/8 Battalion's Fox company.

    "I have full confidence they will get the job done. It's another day in the office."

    Afghan security forces were driving out to their targeted area, where the forces would meet, he said. "We expect to encounter resistance and come into enemy contact," the captain added.

    Watching the scene was Chief Warrant Officer Tim McWilliams, an official historian for the US Marines, who said the operation was the biggest for the Corps since they recaptured Fallujah in late 2004.

    The then commander of US forces in Iraq, General George Casey, said about 15,000 US troops and more than five Iraqi battalions were involved in Fallujah.

    This is also one of the biggest operations in Afghanistan since the US-led invasion drove out the Taliban regime in 2001 and the largest for Marine reinforcements deployed under President Barack Obama's new Afghan war strategy.

    "This is a very significant event in terms of its size and its scope," McWilliams said. "Geographically with the (Taliban-held) Nawa and Garmsir districts, we are pretty spread out.

    "We are covering a lot of territory, and are going in heavy and fast."

    With a final helicopter relay, the last men were carried into action and Nicholson hurried off for the latest update from the frontlines.
    Attached Files

  • Wild Snide
    replied
    Originally posted by bjsigman View Post
    If you look carefully at the helicopters in the background of the picture, they are CH-53 Delta's belonging to HMH-362.
    Yes those are!. Actually they are using "Super D's" Delta models with Echo engines specially installed for the high altitudes in Afghanistan.

    Long way from Shufly. Go Screw Crew!

    Leave a comment:


  • bjsigman
    replied
    Delta's still doing the job

    If you look carefully at the helicopters in the background of the picture, they are CH-53 Delta's belonging to HMH-362.

    Leave a comment:


  • Ray Norton
    replied
    Marines At Work

    From the front page of the New York Times July 3, 2009.
    Attached Files

    Leave a comment:

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