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Marines and sailors from Kaneohe Bay's 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, worked with the Afghan National Army in the Korengal Valley from Aug. 10-20 on Operation Whaler. The Pentagon said the operation was designed to deny insurgents safe havens in the Kunar Province and Korengal Valley and to ensure next month's elections will be secure for Afghans to vote.
The Korengal Valley is 400 square kilometers and is well known for the constant attacks against military forces, the Marines said in a written statement. Enemy forces can easily attack Afghan and coalition forces from a distance and hide among the steep, jagged mountains.
Kaneohe Marines sent one company to enter from the north end of the valley and another company to enter from the south and yet another to set up blocking positions to deny enemy reinforcements and to trap enemy forces in the valley, the statement said. Kaneohe Bay's Fox Company was engaged in a firefight against an estimated 100 insurgents and Echo Company Marines were victims of a platoon ambush.
"Our goal going into the operation was to disrupt the insurgents' ability to interfere with the upcoming elections. We clearly accomplished that goal," said Lt. Col. James Donnellan, commanding officer of the 2nd Battalion. "We also worked for the first time at the battalion level with our ANA (Afghan National Army) counterparts, which was a tremendous experience that will serve us well in future operations. We showed the enemy that we can operate in the rugged mountainous terrain as well as on the valley floors. The Marines, soldiers and sailors performed exceptionally, and the insurgents now know that Task Force Koa will be relentless in pursuing them, wherever they may hide."
Marine and Afghan commanders also met with elders at numerous villages and received information on village needs and to build relationships. "These people don't trust us, and we just have to do our best to show them that we're here to help them. They'll learn that we're better for them than the Taliban," said Lance Cpl. Peter D. Jones, infantryman, from St. Louis. "They always tell us that there are no insurgents, yet we're always getting attacked every time we come here."
Gov. Linda Lingle marked the halfway point in the Hawaii Army National Guard's 29th Brigade Combat Team's yearlong deployment in Iraq this week by releasing $50,000 in state funds to support the Chamber Commerce of Hawaii's military affairs programs. The grant will be used by the chamber's military affairs council, which in July spearheaded efforts to fight a federal independent panel's proposal to close Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard.
Other programs supported by the chamber include the annual Hawaii Military Appreciation Month, the annual January Hawaii Military Partnership Conference where military leaders brief elected and appointed island officials and its annual visit to Washington, D.C., to meet with Pentagon and congressional leaders for briefings on operations in the Asia-Pacific region.
» Col. Kenneth S. Dowd, director of logistics, engineering and security assistance, at the U.S. Pacific Command, has been promoted to brigadier general.
» Col. John W. Peabody, commander of Army Engineer Division, Pacific Ocean, has been promoted to brigadier general.
» Col. John E. Seward, commander of the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, has been promoted to brigadier general.
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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