A look at the first day of "Eastern Resolve 2," a Marine operation designed to break the monthslong stalemate in the Taliban-held town of Dahaneh, 5 miles south of Naw Zad, a major city in the southern province of Helmand.
Some 400 Marines from Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines, and 100 Afghan soldiers are taking part. Three Associated Press journalists are embedded with the unit.
1 a.m.: The main part of the Marine company and its Afghan counterparts head by ground convoy from their forward operating base in Naw Zad about 5 miles south to Dahaneh.
2:15 a.m.: A platoon of Marines marches out of the Naw Zad base to a landing zone, where three CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopters pick them up. To preserve the element of surprise, the troops are flown in a long, circular route 5 miles to the south.
2:45 a.m.: The helicopter-borne Marines and a team of AP journalists are dropped behind Taliban lines in the town of Dahaneh.
3:15 a.m.: The Marines set off large explosions to break into a suspected Taliban compound. The troops arrest five men in the compound and take it over, using it as a base for the day.
4:15 a.m.: Sporadic gun battles erupt, as militants group for a fight.
5 a.m.: Shooting intensifies, coming in short but violent outbursts over five hours. Militants fire small arms, mortars and rocket propelled grenades.
10 a.m.: The Marine ground convoy of Humvees and MRAPs — a kind of armored vehicle — appear on the outskirts of Dahaneh, where they come under regular and accurate mortar fire. Insurgents add heavy missile fire from a mobile missile launcher.
11:15 a.m.: The troops observe militants grouping in one central compound with heavy weapons. Troops eventually conclude no civilians are in the compound and call in an airstrike, killing between seven and 10 insurgents.
Noon: Fighting quiets over the next four hours, as temperatures in the Helmand desert approach 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
4 p.m.: A Marine patrol exiting the outpost they've taken over realizes insurgents have crept close. Fighters open fire from about 20 yards away.
5 p.m. to 7 p.m.: Sporadic but intense fighting resumes. Multiple rocket-propelled grenades land near the Marine outpost.
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