09 Sep. 2008
PR# 2008-470

Afghan, British forces take control of Garmsir

KABUL, Afghanistan - Following a small ceremony September 8, the U.S. 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit returned responsibility for keeping order in the northern part of Garmsir district, once an area infested by insurgents, to the Afghan 4th Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 205th Corps and their British mentors.

The northern part of Garmsir district along the Helmand River was long a vital area to the insurgents — serving as a staging and transit area for insurgent, their equipment and their weapons both north and south.

Summary of Operations:

The Marines launched operations in Garmsir on the evening of April 28. Motorized Charlie Company created a diversion to the north of the river while Alpha and Bravo companies did a helicopter insert to the east and south. Charlie Company then pushed east to their objective. After four days, the Marines had taken the main north-south route east of the Helmand River.

For 35 days Marines continued to clear areas in the district. Through the capture of a series of identified enemy strong points and defensive positions, Marines opened the previously denied routes through Garmsir district to the economically vital Helmand green zone. During these 35 days, the Marines were in 170 engagements in which they caused severe insurgent casualties, more than 400 according to the Helmand governor, and zero civilian casualties. The kinetic phase of operations culminated May 28 when the Marines pushed south and west to clear the final insurgent strong holds in Jugroom Fort and the Amir Agar Bazaar.

Following the month of intense fighting, the Marines transitioned to stability operations. Marines and the British forces of Task Force Helmand June 23 opened a Joint Civil Military Operations Centre, which was the first CMOC opened in Regional Command-South. During the Marines’ tenure, 1,082 Afghan citizens visited the U.S. side of the CMOC, and the Marines paid almost 39 million Afghanis in battle damage reparations.

The Marines completed CMOC operations Aug 29 and transitioned that function to the British Forces Sept. 3.

Through countless patrols, which later became joint patrols as the Afghan forces flowed into the area, the Marines maintained a stable environment — one which enabled the Afghan citizens to return to the homes they had been displaced from up to two-years earlier by the insurgents.

With stability, normality returned. The Afghan citizens re-opened the Garmsir District Bazaar and the hospital. The canal system was able to be evaluated for repairs, the first shura in nearly three years was held, more wells were dug, schools were repaired, and flea markets and livestock auctions were organized and well attended.

“Coming here, I told the Marines that wherever we went, had to be better for us having been there. Today I can say we have accomplished that,” said Col Peter Petronzio, 24th MEU commander. 

The 2,400-strong Marine unit is consolidating at Kandahar Airfield in preparation for redeployment to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

Contact Information ISAF Public Affairs Office
Tel: +93 (0)799 51 1155 - Mobile: 0093 (0) 799 55 8291 pressoffice@hq.isaf.nato.int - www.nato.int/isaf/