Showing posts with label Marines. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Marines. Show all posts

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Task Force Southwest First Rotation Complete

Task Force Southwest has seen the first rotation of Marines complete their tour. The nine-month deployment saw the Marines deploy advisors and trainers to assist the Afghan National Army (ANA) 215th Corps and 505th Zone National Police in Helmand province. The Marines took over from Task Force Forge last spring - an Army organization that was advising the ANA and ANP. The advisory element was made up of Marines from III Marine Expeditionary Force and led by Brig. General Roger Turner. The new advisory team is led by  Brig. General Benjamin Watson. The transfer of authority occurred on January 15, 2018.

The second rotation of Marines will likely have looser rules of engagement and greater authorities. Resolute Support HQs has repeatedly indicated that advisors will be found at the lower tactical levels - going down to kandak (battalion) level to conduct the train, advise, and assist mission. The Marines will likely advise some units on a persistent basis while other Afghan units will see advisors on an episodic basis. Read more in "Combat Is No Longer Off the Table for Marines in Afghanistan", Task and Purpose, January 15, 2018.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Marines Set Up Task Force Southwest in Helmand Province

In 2014 Regional Command South West (RC SW) was dis-established as part of the draw down of forces across Afghanistan. While other regional commands (2-star organizations) were replaced by 'Train Advise and Assist Commands' (1-star organizations) the RCs for the 203rd and 215th Corps were just disbanded. Resolute Support HQs attempted to provide 'long-range expeditionary advising' to these two corps but . . .  well, that's another story.

In 2015 it was determined that a full-time presence was needed in Helmand province as the security situation had deteriorated drastically in that area of Afghanistan. A small U.S. Army contingent called Task Force Forge was dispatched to provide training, advice, and assistance and to coordinate for enablers (air support, etc.) when needed. In the spring of 2017 Task Force Forge was replaced by a Marine contingent called Task Force Southwest. Read some news reports about the activities of Task Force Southwest below.

May 24, 2017. Working Together: Marine advisors with Task Force Southwest hit the ground running, DVIDS.

May 25,2017. "Marine Advisors Train Afghan Soldiers, Police", Department of Defense.

January 9, 2017. Task Force South West - Marines Return to Helmand Province, SOF News.

Monday, January 12, 2015

MEB Afghanistan Deactivates

A deactivation ceremony for Marine Expeditionary Brigade - Afghanistan (MEB-A) was held at Camp Pendleton, California on January 9, 2015. The MEB-A officially took authority of Regional Command Southwest from II MEF (Forward) on February 5, 2014 and assumed the responsibility to lead coalition operations in Helmand and Nimroz provinces. The coalition departed RC Southwest in early fall of 2014. Read more in "MEB-Afghanistan deactivates, cases colors", RS News, January 9, 2015.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Afghan Interpreter Finds New Life in U.S.

An Afghan interpreter who spent years working for the U.S. military and who's life was threatened by the Taliban has started a new life in the United States. He is being aided by a U.S. Marine in his fresh start. Read more in "Afghan Interpreter Finds Refuge at Marine's Home",, December 26, 2014.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Retrograde - What the Afghans Get

It is impossible for the military to take all the supplies and equipment home from Afghanistan. Some does come back - especially the expensive stuff that is easy to transport. Some stuff is passed on to the Afghans. A lot of material and equipment is sold to Afghan contractors for removal. Read more in "Marine pullout offers preview of what U.S. leaves behind for Afghan troops", The Washington Post, November 12, 2014.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Marine Commanders Reflect on Afghanistan

The Marines have departed Helmand province and the large, sprawling base known as Camp Leatherneck. With the departure there have been a number of news accounts where Marines have reflected on the victories, frustrations, and casualties. And more than a few are skeptical of the end result - especially to be seen a year or two from now. In the later part of the war the Marines stepped up their numbers in southwest Afghanistan (having departed Anbar province in Iraq). Read a detailed account of the Marines stay in southwest Afghanistan in "Marine commanders reflect on 13 years of war in Afghanistan", Marine Corps Times, November 5, 2014.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Afghan Plans for Camp Leatherneck

The Afghan 215th ANA Corps inherited a sprawling base in southwest Afghanistan with the departure of the Marines from Camp Leatherneck. The mystery is what will the Afghans do with the base, buildings (298), vehicles, equipment, and gear. One of the buildings is a $36 million, 64,000-square foot military headquarters built for the Marines but never used. Ouch. The camp was built to accommodate 26,000 troops. Read more in "Afghans' plans for gear, buildings at Leatherneck unclear", Marine Corps Times, November 2, 2014.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Marines Arrive at Pendleton

Marines and Sailors have returned to Camp Pendleton after their deployment to Helmand province, Afghanistan. Camp Leatherneck has been transferred to the Afghan National Army (ANA).
Read more in "Camp Pendleton: Last Marines Return from Afghanistan", The Press Enterprise, November 6, 2014.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

History of Marines in Helmand Province

The Marines have handed over Camp Leatherneck to the Afghan National Army. Only a few hundred Marines remain to do the final packing . . . and they too, will soon depart. What was once a sprawling base is a ghost town. A recently posted account of the Marines time in Helmand province can be found in "Marines leave Afghanistan after tough years", Stars and Stripes, October 27, 2014.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Osprey Crews Return Home

Members of the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 261, Marine Aircraft Group 26, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing returned home (New River, NC) in mid-October after completing their nine-month long deployment in Afghanistan. The squadron provided support with emergency casualty evacuations, resupply operations, and troop movements. Read more in "Welcome Home: Marines embrace families, friends after Afghan deployment", DVIDS, October 17, 2014.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Final GDP-ISAF Rotation w/ Republic Georgia Armed Forces

"KRTSANISI NATIONAL TRAINING CENTER, Republic of Georgia – Marines and Sailors from Georgia Training Team, Marine Forces Europe and Africa, are nearing the end of their six month deployment supporting the Georgia Deployment Program- International Security Assistance Force. They are the final GTT to train a Battalion from the Georgian Armed Forces to support the ISAF mission in Afghanistan. Combat operations will conclude in Afghanistan later this year, and the mission will transition from ISAF to Resolute Support Mission. The RSM will focus on training, advising and assisting Afghan forces marking the beginning of a new chapter in ensuring that stability and security returns to the region."
Read more:

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Departure from Helmand - Taliban Undefeated?

Map from
The U.S. Marines and the UK troops have departed Helmand province. Camp Bastion and Camp Leatherneck have been transferred to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). Only a few hundred ISAF troops remain to complete the packing up process. It was a tough fight for the Brits and Marines over the past several years - both contingents losing hundreds of men to the conflict. At one time there were over 40,000 ISAF personnel (Marines, Brits, contractors, etc.) stationed at Camps Bastion and Leatherneck but now it is owned and run by the Afghans. More importantly, the ANA and ANP are now responsible for providing security in that part of Afghanistan and defeating the Taliban. But . . . that is the big question. Can they do that? Read more in "With Marines Gone, Can the Afghan Army Hold Off the Taliban", NPR Parallels, October 27, 2014.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sunday, February 9, 2014

2nd MAW Returns from Afghan Deployment

Read about the return of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) to Cherry Point after a long deployment in Afghanistan. See "2nd MAW Fwd returns after year long deployment", DVIDS, February 8, 2014.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Religious Sect of U.S. Marines Demand Recognition and Rights for Norse Paganism Practice

On January 22, 2014 the Department of Defense issued a change to DoD Instruction 1300.17 entitled "Accommodation of Religious Practices Within the Military Services" (view DoDI 1300.7 here). According to a U.S. Department of Defense news release (see DoD Releases New Religious Accommodation Instruction, American Forces Press Service, January 22, 2014) the new instruction details its updated policy on making religious accommodations requested by service members. The new policy states that military departments will accommodate requests for the wearing of beards, turbans, religious apparel, and other tenets of their respective religions. The updated DoD instruction is quite specific as to which religious sects are covered by the new policy - including Sikh, Muslim, and Jewish members. However, one group of U.S. Marines is quite unhappy with the new policy as they feel their specific religious sect has been left out. This small religious group is comprised of members from Camp LeJeune, North Carolina who have converted to Norse Paganism and are now demanding that they be authorized to wear horns and wings on their helmets. The Marines have not as yet officially responded to the demands although there are unofficial reports that a working group has been established to determine the actual garb and equipment that Vikings wore into battle as they ravaged their way through England, France, Italy, Netherlands, Turkey, North Africa, Russia, and New Zealand. Read more in "Marines Convert to Norse Paganism, Demand Horns and Wings on Helmets", DD Blog, January 30, 2014.

Marines Change Command in Helmand

The Marines have changed command in Helmand province, Afghanistan. The ceremony took place at Camp Leatherneck at the Regional Command Southwest headquarters. During the peak of the surge there were over 20,000 Marines in the southwest; today there are about 4,500 (as of Feb 14). Read more in "Marines change command in Helmand", USA Today, February 5, 2014.

Friday, February 7, 2014

2nd Marine Aircraft Wing To Depart RC Southwest

Marines and sailors with the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) are preparing to depart Regional Command Southwest in the next few days. The Transfer of Authority to the 3rd MAW (Fwd) took place at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan on February 4, 2014. This was the third deployment to Afghanistan for the Cherry Point, NC unit. The unit provided immediate response capabilities, assault support, and assistance transporting personnel, gear, and cargo. Read the rest of the story in "Last Marine Aviation Transfer of Authority in Afghanistan", DVIDS, February 5, 2014.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Retrograde: Posts Downsize and Austere Conditions Rise

The U.S. force level in Afghanistan is steadily getting smaller. As the size of the force diminishes the need for the many bases - large and small - across Afghanistan goes away. Camp commanders struggle with what resources and activities remain on a base as it down-sizes and what needs to go. These decisions on the retrograde operations in Afghanistan affect the ability to conduct operations and the standard of living and services of these military and contractor personnel left behind. Flush toilets, hot meals, shower units, and other services are slowly going away to be replaced with port-a-potties, Meals Ready to Eat (MREs), and sponge baths (and lots of deodorant). One place that is seeing the effects of retrograde is Camp Dwyer in the Garmsir district of Helmand province. Read more in "At Marine outpost in Afghanistan, conditions grow more austere by the day", Marine Corps Times, July 14, 2014.

Pendleton Marines Deploy to Afghanistan

I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) is deploying to Regional Command - Southwest and will be based at Camp Leatherneck. Read more in "Families say goodbyes as Pendleton Marines head to Afghanistan", Stars and Stripes, January 13, 2014.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Endgame for Marines in Afghanistan

A recent news article explores the Marines mission (past, present, and future) in Regional Command Southwest. The article discusses the tough fighting that has taken place over the years, the recent agreement between an ANA brigade commander in Sangin district with the Taliban, and how the Afghans will need to step up to succeed. The Marine strength in RC Southwest is currently about 7,000 (January 2014) but will drop to approximately 4,000 in the spring. At the peak of the war there were 20,000 Marines in the two provinces (Helmand and Nimruz) in 2011 - along with other Coalition partners (Danish and Brits). Read the article - "Afghan war reaches endgame", U-T San Diego, January 11, 2014.