When puppy dogs meet Marine scout snipers in Afghanistan

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Lance Cpl. Grant Ciffone, a member of the scout sniper platoon with 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, posts security near a low wall in a compound in Trek Nawa, Afghanistan, on Oct. 25. Puppies huddled underneath the grate at his feet. (Dan Lamothe / Staff)

Earlier today, my long-form narrative look at a Marine scout sniper mission in Afghanistan was posted on the free side of our website. It covers the ins and outs of a Taliban takedown while I was embedded with 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, in Trek Nawa, Afghanistan, on Oct. 25.

There’s a thread I didn’t mention in that piece that’s worth sharing here. Blackheart 2, a scout sniper team led by Sgt. Joshua Ott, took over a compound near Marjah occupied by a family with seven or eight children. As awkward as that is, that sort of decision is commonplace in Afghanistan, where scout snipers need concealment and the right angles to do their work.

On this day, two small puppies huddling in the cold complicated the mission. As the sun rose, their tiny, high-pitched yelps drew the attention of the Marines, who decided to leave them be as long as they didn’t compromise the mission.

Lance Cpl. Grant Ciffone posted security near an opening in the wall near the puppies, wearing a black cloak over his head so that he didn’t look so obviously like a Marine from the outside. Ott instructed him to leave the puppies alone, leading to some interesting visuals:

Lance Cpl. Grant Ciffone, posts security for his scout sniper team with 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, on Oct. 25 in Trek Nawa, Afghanistan. At his feet are two puppies. (Dan Lamothe / Staff)

Two puppies sit quietly in an compound while Marine scout snipers prepare to attack insurgents in Trek Nawa, Afghanistan, on Oct. 25. (Dan Lamothe / Staff)

Two puppies sit quietly in an compound while Marine scout snipers prepare to attack insurgents in Trek Nawa, Afghanistan, on Oct. 25. (Dan Lamothe / Staff)

To be clear: Blackheart 2 took down Taliban fighters with cute puppy dogs resting just a few feet away, thus showing the duality of man. The Jungian thing, sir!

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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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