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Charlie 'Rock' Company cornerstone to thwarting Taliban effort in Zharay, Panjwai

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“Never have I seen a group of men continue to go back into the fight day after day, fully knowing that they or their brothers could be hurt. Never have I seen a group of men that have been able to continue to push and engage and defeat the enemy on a daily basis like Rock Company has,” said U.S. Army Capt. John Meyer, the company commander for Charlie “Rock” Company, 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, Task Force 1-23 Infantry

The soldiers of Rock Company have been battling in some of the toughest areas of Afghanistan for the past 11 months.

“Our first eight months we were in Zharay district, it’s a very historic location for Taliban fighting, in fact, Mullah Omar had a home in our area of operations,” said Meyer. “When we showed up there wasn’t a lot of white space, which is what we call maneuverable area. So my soldiers had to fight for it.”

During their time in Zharay the Rock Company soldiers pushed hard to clear the Taliban out of an area that had been historically controlled by them. During this time they would encounter at least one firefight a day.

The Rock Company soldiers battled their way through the district creating a large area free from any Taliban presence.

“To give you an example, in spring 2007 our old company combat outpost in Pashmal was taking rocket-propelled grenade rounds all the time, in 2011 it wasn’t attacked once, because we were pushing the enemy back on their heels,” Meyer said.

The soldiers victories were compounded by the successes they made with their Afghan counterparts.

“We started three new Afghan Local Police checkpoints in our area and continued to project that whitespace,” said Meyer. “Every single platoon lived with their ALP counterparts at some point, teaching and training with them. It was very helpful for the Afghans.”

This spring, Zharay district was the most kinetic area in all of Afghanistan, said Meyer.

The fact that civilians have begun to move back into the area that at one point saw the worst fighting is the greatest success for Rock Company in Zharay.

“It was a tough fight, but we literally dislocated the enemy from the area,” said Meyer.

After fighting for Zharay district the Rock Company was tasked to fight in the often-brutal Panjawai district.

“The essence of being ‘The Rock Company’ has grown into something here. We have been that dependable company that has been sent into the hardest of the fights over and over again,” Meyer said.

Through the course of their tour the Rock Company soldiers have not been without their losses. With more than 35 instances of Purple Heart Medals being awarded to Rock Company soldiers, it is clear that they have seen more than their fair share of fighting.

“These guys are incredibly honorable, brave men. These men will look the enemy in the eye, and then go after them,” said Meyer. “To do it day after day, and to do it after their buddies have been blown up or shot, is truly remarkable.”

Article by Spc. Nevada Jack Smith, 117th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment