22nd MEU Afghanistan Recap: Operation ASBURY PARK

1 Sep 2004 | Gunnery Sgt. Keith A. Milks

Ever since the fall of Afghanistan's Taliban regime in late 2001, Taliban and anti-coalition militia factions have been waging a guerilla-style war against U.S., Afghan, and Coalition forces. Using ambushes and other 'hit-and-run' tactics, these terrorist factions have always attempted to avoid getting into pitched battles.However, in early June, when elements of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) entered the Dey Chopan district of Afghanistan's Oruzgan province for Operation ASBURY PARK, they ran into a fight they never expected.Instead of laying improvised explosive devices (IEDs) or taking potshots at passing convoys, the Taliban and ACM elements decided to stand their ground and fight. In doing so, they suffered one of their soundest defeats in months.While the bulk of the Marine force during ASBURY PARK was drawn from Charlie and Weapons Companies of Battalion Landing Team 1st Bn., 6th Marines, Marines and Sailors from the MEU Command Element, MEU Service Support Group 22, and Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 266 (Reinforced) also took part in the mission. A sizable force of Afghan Militia Force fighters also accompanied the Marine task force, and mid-way through the operation a second force was inserted and set up blocking positions to deny the enemy a path of escape. Beginning on June 2, the Marines and Sailors participating in the mission engaged in pitched battles each day that culminated on June 8 when scores of enemy terrorists, including foreign fighters, ambushed the MEU task force from entrenched and mutually-supporting fighting positions.During these battles, close air support played a key role. Marine attack helicopters and Harrier jets joined the fray alongside Army AH-64 Apache attack helicopters and Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft and B-1B Lancer strategic bombers.The June 8 battle broke the back of enemy resistance in the region, and no further contact was made as the MEU task force conducted operations until June 17. More than 85 enemy fighters were confirmed killed and as many as 40 others estimated killed. A handful of Marines were wounded by enemy fire, all of whom have since returned to duty.In early July, Task Force Linebacker sent the Army's 2nd Bn., 5th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, which was attached to the MEU, back into the Dey Chopan region to follow up on the success of ASBURY PARK. During Operation ASBURY PARK II, the Army infantrymen, Afghan National Army troops, and attached Marines again sparred with ACM forces in the region, once again inflicting significant losses against the enemy.This is the ninth installment in an 11-part series chronicling the 22nd MEU (SOC)'s operations and missions in Afghanistan.For more information on the 22nd MEU (SOC)'s role in Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, visit the unit's web site at http://www.22meu.usmc.mil.
22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit