DURZAY, Afghanistan – Light armored reconnaissance Marines monitored traffic in and out of Durzay, where they found several weapons and improvised explosive device caches.
During the 10 day operation, Marines patrolled in the town, and set up checkpoints to question or search anyone traveling through the area.
“First, we needed to speak to the village elders,” said Lance Cpl. Jeffrey Barcenas, an automatic rifleman with 1st Platoon, Bravo Company, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion. “The elders know everything that’s going on in their village and no one in the village will talk without their permission.”
The Marines initially gathered information about any insurgent activities that occurred before they arrived.
“We asked them if they’ve seen any Taliban in the area, if there’s anyone emplacing IEDs at night, or if they’ve heard of any safe houses in the area,” said Barcenas, a Dallas, native.
The Marines used the information they gathered from the village elders and locals to patrol suspicious sites around the town. They encountered many fire fights as they got closer to what the Taliban were hiding.
“We pushed our search into the outskirts of Durzai and noticed that we would start getting shot at more and more,” said Cpl. Tristian Corson, a team leader with 1st Plt., Co. B, 1st LAR Bn.
The Marines found weapons caches containing AK-47s, 50 caliber rounds, and IED making material.
“We found most of the caches in the haystacks and in small houses near the town,” said Corson, a Ramona, Calif., native. “We assumed they were in a hurry to leave and stashed their equipment carelessly.”
Once the Marines cleared the outskirts of the town, they moved toward the locations they had received contact from, to force the Taliban out further.
“We kept pushing closer toward them every day and they would push back farther,” Barcenas said. “Once they couldn’t hide anymore, we put suppressive fire on them and everything we trained for just clicked together.
For now, the Marines were able to scare off the Taliban and help the local villagers. But, they will need to stay in the area with Afghan security forces a little longer for progress to continue.
“We wanted to clear out the insurgent activity in the area so the people here can live and go about their business in a peaceful and safe manner,” Corson said. “Doing this has helped build a good rapport with the locals.”