Shadow Warriors shed light on new war fighting techniques

23 Apr 2012 | Cpl. Marco Mancha

Marines around the world constantly adjust their training to better combat the enemy. One battalion is preparing for the road ahead through hands-on training to make themselves and their Afghan counterparts more lethal.

The warriors of 3rd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, are conducting a two-week long training event focusing on new mission concepts, as they get ready for an upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.

While Marines are well known for their ability to take the fight to the enemy, the 3/9 Shadow Warriors, named appropriately because of the unit’s involvement in the Battle of Bougainville in World War II, focused on training others to fight. Their efforts helped their Afghan military counterparts present for the training, teach their soldiers basic infantry tactics and skills.

“As we transition from a tactical standpoint into an advisory role in Afghanistan, the mentality shifts a little bit in our training,” explained 1st Lt. Frank Swan of Jacksonville, N.C. “So rather than teaching the Afghans how to actually do things, we’re teaching the Afghans how to teach their own people how to do things. And we’re stepping back a lot more into an advisory role, as a reaction force in case they need support, rather than us leading the way.”

The 27-year-old intelligence officer also added that the training doesn’t stop there. Much of what is happening during the evolution is for the Marines and geared toward preparing them for the region of Afghanistan where they are slated to deploy to.

The evolution features training to counter improvised explosive devices and practical application, advisor training, combat policing, key leader engagements and tactical sight exploitation. These events are all directly related to what has been reported in their future area of operations.

Corporal Sean J. Gallagher Jr. of Collingdale, Pa., led his squad through the combat policing lane full of role players dressed in garments commonly seen in Afghanistan. The 27-year-old squad leader’s mission was to identify any insurgent identifiers or suspicious activity and interact with local key leaders throughout the patrol.

“It was our first patrol in the village and we just went through, we met the shop keepers, and were checking to see if there were any shady individuals,” said Gallagher, a 2002 Monsignor Bonner High School graduate. “Overall, it went well. There were some things in the end that we got hit on and could’ve done better, but that’s what the training is here for. We get better here and then when we get (to Afghanistan,) we do a great job and knock it out of the park.”

While Gallagher and his shadow warriors were conducting police training, Batavia, N.Y., native Cpl. Michael Maurer was doing some training of his own. The squad leader spent his time counseling his Afghan counterpart during the advisor training part of the evolution.

The objective was to advise the Afghan squad leader on mission planning and tactical procedures. Maurer also evaluated the soldier and his unit in the delivery, execution and retention of their training.

“We’re doing the advising portion (to see) what we need to get these soldiers spun up on, as far as them being able to train, and assess what they actually know and to add to what they already know,” said Maurer, a 2005 Genesee Community College graduate. “We’re getting away from the whole teaching aspect, and we’re going into the advising portion. This is something that has been popping up in the last year or so with the intent of getting them to be able to run their own country, as far as the military goes.”

Maurer also mentioned he is aware of the drawdown of U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and wants to be to help his Afghan allies as much as possible before completely handing the reins over in 2014. The training itself cost thousands of dollars, involves more than 90 Afghan role players, and is as real as it gets without actually being in the sands of Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Striking 3/9 will continue the training until the end of next week when every company has completed the 36-hour evolution.