Lance Cpl. Vanthan Kim takes a small break with his improvised explosive device-detecting dog, Maggie, at Forward Operating Base Marjah, Helmand province, Afghanistan, April 5. The 23-year-old Erie, Pa., native is a rifleman and dog handler for 3rd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, and is currently deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He and his faithful companion are tasked with leading patrols and finding IEDs and weapons caches. “This is my first deployment with Maggie,” said the Central High School graduate. “She makes the deployment 100 percent better. It’s like having another best friend.” The battalion, currently assigned to Regimental Combat Team 1, 2nd Marine Division (Forward), is serving as a ground combat element in Marjah, Afghanistan. The mission of the unit is to partner with the Afghan national security forces and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations to secure the Afghan people, defeat insurgent forces, and enable ANSF assumption of security responsibilities within its area of operations. The partnered forces support the expansion of stability, development and legitimate governance.