While patrolling the District Centre, the Marines, from Multiple One (India Company), were involved in daily fighting with the Taliban that occupy the no-mans land to the immediate South of their Forward Operating Base (FOB) "Delhi."
See Related Links>>> to watch India Company on Patrol in Garmsir Province.
They faced a constant threat, as what used to be a bustling bazaar and busy high street has become a focus for Taliban activity. Any movement around the District Centre could prove hazardous, drawing enemy fire at any moment. The bridge on the only route in and out of the DC receives incoming sniper fire whenever it's crossed, aimed not just at the Helmand Task Force (HTF) but also the local population.
India Company are made up of ranks from 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines' Command Support Group.
Marine Eddie Cain, aged 25, a member of Multiple One, India Company, describes a contact (firefight with the enemy) he and his Multiple had with the Taliban during a patrol on 24 December 2006:
"During a fairly routine morning, some small arms fire was exchanged, but nothing unusual until finally 51mm mortars were dropped onto a Taliban position, followed by some 105mm shells which seemed to finish the contact. Having just been instructed to head back to Delhi (The Forward Operating Base) at around 1.30pm, the Taliban opened fire on us out of nowhere with RPG's (Rocket Propelled Grenades) and impressively accurate small arms fire.
"They (the Taliban) had managed to sneak within 200m of our position using the dried up canals and trenches. Immediately we jumped behind the foot-tall sand bag wall to return fire, only to be beaten back by the bullets ripping through our protection. Rolling back from the trench I realised a round had gone through my shirt just missing my shoulder - for the second time in three days!
"We then laid down a heavy weight of Machine Gun fire, giving us chance to re-group and re-assault the Taliban as they appeared again. I looked to my left and saw our vehicles taking fire and raced down to provide them with some cover. Jumping into our WMIK (Land Rover with Weapons Mount Installation Kit) I shunted back another vehicle so that I could bring the 50 calibre machine gun into good position.
"All the while, more RPG's and small arms fire were being fired at us. As soon as a there was a lull in the firing I jumped into position and fired into the compound that was protecting the Taliban fighters. We were relieved around 3.30pm so that we could go back to camp and re-supply but the fight lasted late into the evening".
Although the Royal Marines have been involved in fierce fighting with the Taliban around the DC they have also been patrolling surrounding villages trying to reassure the locals, and gain their confidence, explaining to them the reason for the Helmand Task Force being deployed in Garmsir and indeed Afghanistan.
Captain Tom Evans-Jones, Officer Commanding Multiple 1, proudly describes the attitude and conduct of his men during their time in Garmsir:
"The way the men conducted themselves throughout the fighting was a testament to the rigorous training they undergo to become a Royal Marine Commando, but I was particularly impressed by the control they displayed. They were able to immediately switch from aggressive actions to winning the Hearts and Minds of locals, which is essential to what we are trying to achieve.
"We have to provide security and stability so that the local population can rebuild their lives in this previously thriving town without fear of the Taliban."
Helmand Task Force, working from within the District Centre, also have artillery support provided by 29 Commando Royal Artillery who, at a moments notice, can provide smoke, illuminate a target area at night or fire precise indirect fire onto identified enemy targets.
The Helmand Task Force will continue to support the Government of Afghanistan by patrolling Garmsir in order to return Stability and Security to the region. Once achieved the government can safely co-ordinate reconstruction and development to improve the lives of the local population.