SOUTHERN SHORSURAK, Helmand province, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan — Lance Cpl. Joshua J. Melendez, a squad automatic weapon gunner with Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, provides security during a break in his squad’s patrol to the east of their newly established observation post in Southern Shorsurak, Helmand province, Afghanistan, during Operation New Dawn, June 20, 2010. Melendez, from Anaheim, Calif., and the Marines found two directional fragmentation improvised explosive devices weighing 35 pounds each, 15 feet of detonation cord and 15 pounds of ammonium nitrate and aluminum powder during the patrol. Operation New Dawn is a joint operation between Marine Corps units and the Afghanistan National Army to disrupt enemy forces, which have been using the sparsely populated region between Marjah and Nawa as a safe haven. (Official Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Mark Fayloga)


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I'm a senior writer with Marine Corps Times, covering ground warfare, manpower, weapons acquisition and other beats. I embedded in Afghanistan in spring 2010, and plan to return at least once in 2011.

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