In the Military
Isle Marines search mountaintop haven
Last month, Kaneohe Bay Marines of the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment were part of Operation Pil in the Afghanistan's Watapor Valley in the Kunar Province.
"We didn't find much during this operation, but it was still good to show the villagers an Island Warrior presence," said Sgt. Curtis D. Magee, a machine gunner. "For our part of the mission, we had to hike up over 5,000 feet to a mountaintop, but it was good for us to do that stuff. It's what we need to do as infantry, staying out in the field and accomplishing whatever mission we're assigned."
The Marines had little enemy contact throughout the operation, with the exception of Camp Blessing, the farthest Marine Corps outpost in Afghanistan, according to a Marine Corps statement.
"As the main effort, we were tasked with ascending a mountain in order to cordon and search the village of Tsangar. This village was an [enemy] safe haven for planning attacks against Coalition forces," said 1st Lt. Chuck Siedlecki Jr., executive officer of Golf Company.
In other operations, Kaneohe Marines are using the Dragon Eye, the smallest functioning unmanned aerial vehicle, a remote-controlled airplane with two real-time video cameras that can fit in a backpack.
"The Dragon Eye is a good tool if used properly. It's excellent for short-range reconnaissance and can easily be taken on a patrol to further increase a squad's abilities," said infantry Sgt. Henry M. White Jr. "It's great for taking a picture of suspected improvised explosive devices found on roads."
"I can get more intelligence in five minutes than a squad of Marines can get in two hours," said Cpl. Joshua L. Britner. "It's also a lot safer than sending a squad. During testing of the Dragon Eye, they had an entire company shoot at it in flight for two days; it only took four hits and was never shot down."
The Dragon Eye has two fixed cameras, for both forward and side angles, and can take video in black-and-white, color or infrared for night-time operations. The battery provides up to 60 minutes of flight time at 35 mph, and the aircraft has a flight weight of roughly five pounds. The Dragon Eye's size and ease of use allows great flexibility when planning missions.
"We can launch it into the air with a bungee cord in under 10 minutes after being told," said Britner.
Beginning Dec. 31, U.S. military members in Turkey will no longer be exempt from paying federal taxes. This ends the tax benefit known as combat-zone tax exclusion. American forces serving in Turkey began receiving this benefit in January 2003 in anticipation of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Unaffected is the imminent danger pay benefit, which gives troops serving in Turkey $225 more a month.
The 100th Battalion Veterans Club is selling Christmas wreaths for $20 to help with maintenance of its clubhouse on Kamoku Street, across from Iolani School. For more information, call 946-0272. Deadline for orders is Nov. 20.
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"In the Military" was compiled from wire reports and other
sources by reporter Gregg K. Kakesako, who covers military affairs for
the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. He can be reached can be reached by phone
at 294-4075 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org