Marines face sniper attacks in Sangin

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Members of 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, out of Twentynine Palms, Calif., patrol Sangin, Afghanistan, last month. (Photo by Cpl. Ned Johnson/Marine Corps)

Earlier this year, I dove into the world of chasing Taliban snipers while embedded in Afghanistan’s violent Marjah district. It’s still one of the scariest things I’ve ever done.

I bring that up because it’s worth noting that while sniper fire in Marjah has even been raised as an issue on Capitol Hill by Commandant Gen. James Conway, it’s certainly not a problem unique to that area.

As the Wall Street Journal points out in a story today, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, out of Twentynine Palms, Calif., has faced the same danger recently in Sangin, another former Taliban stronghold in northern Helmand province. Relevant details:

Somewhere in this dusty town, concealed among the cornfields, irrigation canals and mud-walled compounds, is a man the Marines particularly want to kill.

They don’t know what he looks like. But they know he is a very good shot with a long rifle, and, every day he remains alive, he is drawing Marine blood.

In the seven days since the men of Lima Company, Third Battalion, Seventh Marine Regiment arrived in town, the Sangin sniper has persecuted them with methodical, well-aimed shots, fired one at a time. His toll so far: two men killed—one American and one British—and one man wounded.

Lima Company 3/7 arrived in Sangin on Aug. 12, and the sniper struck for the first time a day later, the story says.

We’ve covered before that Marines in Sangin would likely see trouble this summer. On June 9, four airmen were killed there after an Air Force medical evacuation helicopter was shot down by an insurgent’s rocket-propelled grenade.

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About Author

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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