Third Battalion, 3rd Marines, is shifting the fight in Helmand province to the countryside in pursuit of fighters who have been driven to the region’s remote outer reaches over the past two years.
Operation Tageer Shamal, launched Jan. 4, is a joint effort by Marines and Afghan National Army soldiers to root out fighters who have been forced out of population centers since the assault on Marjah in early 2010 set in motion a strategy to break the Taliban’s hold on civilian centers in the region.
Successful operations in towns across Helmand have allowed the establishment of “green zones” that are now primarily patrolled by Afghan police, according to a recent Central Command news release.
“With Afghan police securing most of the green zones, the ANA has the opportunity to conduct larger and more complex operations…” Col. Roger Turner, commanding officer of Regimental Combat Team 5, said in the release.
That is taking Marines and Afghan soldiers to largely untouched areas, according to Lt. Col. Matthew Palma, 3/3’s commanding officer.