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Cpl. Aaron Rooks, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade
PATROL BASE MASOOD, Helmand province, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan –11.21.2009
"It was well planned," said Estonian 1st Lt. Alar Karileet, following an insurgent attack near Patrol Base Masood in late October. "The Taliban were in three positions of four to five men each."
Taliban insurgents fired on the Estonian patrol of soldiers with Company C, Expeditionary Estonian Task Force, in an open field less than a half mile from the patrol base.
Marine Capt. Ryan Petersen, an artillery officer and Joint Terminal Attack Controller with 2nd Brigade Platoon, 2nd Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, Marine Expeditionary Brigade-Afghanistan, sat in the Estonian Combat Operations Center at Masood as the firefight took place, receiving coordinates where enemy fighters were located. Shortly after, one high explosive artillery round landed on the insurgent position.
"The rounds were effective and suppressed the Taliban attack," said Petersen, of Mishawaka, Ind.
A second firefight broke out less than 10 minutes later from a different enemy position as the Estonian patrol moved to assess the damage caused by the artillery round. Petersen, still in the COC, performed the same actions. A second artillery round, the same kind as before, landed on the second position.
"Artillery we asked for made a direct hit on one position, and no one shot at us from there again," Karileet said.
There was never a time, in more than two months of combat operations, where Estonian soldiers left the protective wire of Patrol Base Masood or Patrol Base Shamshad, located less than four kilometers away from each other, without the presence of a force multiplier. That force multiplier came in the form of five Marines from 2nd ANGLICO, MEB-Afghanistan.
The team of Marines, led by Petersen, gave the Estonian soldiers the ability to fully integrate themselves into Marine battle spaces in the Helmand River Valley. The Marines provided the liaison capability with nearby 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, as well as the ability to call for indirect fire and aircraft support in the forms of fire missions, over watch and surveillance.
Estonia, which is located along the Baltic Sea in Northern Europe, is one of NATO's newest and smallest members. Estonian soldiers spent the past couple months working to maintain security in Masood and Shamshad. October's firefight was the first in the Masood District in many weeks.
"[The Estonians] are good infantrymen," said Maj. Matthew Maz, platoon commander, 2nd Brigade Platoon, 2nd ANGLICO. "We provide the necessary enablers to allow them to do what they are good at."