MUSA QAL'EH DISTRICT, Helmand province, Afghanistan --
The “Magnificent Bastards” of 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines have been proving their motto “second to none” while deployed to the Musa Qal’eh District in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
“We’re working toward ANSF (Afghan National Security Forces) development,” said Capt. Isaac Moore, 35, Afghan national advisor team officer in charge, from Wasilla, Alaska. “The goal is to make them better and get them in the lead. We want to transfer security to them.”
According to Moore, some of the key efforts by the Marines have been to demilitarize many of the posts that were occupied by other battalions and consolidate them. The operational area once had 19 posts; this has since been reduced down to single digits. Previous battalions deployed to the area had done most of the fighting, allowing 2/4 to conduct more training and reconstruction.
The consolidation has two main effects. While the Marines were spread out, they had a hard time conducting training and rebuilding efforts. Their manpower was put toward protecting the area and self-preservation. As much of the fighting has declined, consolidating the positions has allowed the Afghan forces to take stewardship of territory from the Marines and focus greater efforts on reconstruction and training.
“The battalions that were here before us did a lot of the heavy lifting. They fought tooth and nail together with the ANA (Afghan National Army) to claim this territory,” Moore said. “They fought hard for all the ground so that we could come in and train the ANA better so that they can unify and hold it. We have four-man teams that spend all day, every day with the Afghans.”
Those four-man teams are partnered with the Afghan forces in every aspect. They eat, live, patrol and guide them constantly. This is almost a complete reversal from previous years when the Afghans would have small teams accompanying the Marines to learn.
Besides training, Afghan forces and the Marines of 2/4 have been concentrating on conducting reconstruction efforts. They reinforced and helped with construction of posts for both the police and army forces.
“We’ve been knocking stuff down all over,” 1st Lt. Adam Sims said, 26, platoon commander, combat engineers, from Dallas, Texas. “It’s a strange combo. We’ve been demilitarizing many of our own posts, but we’ve been building up posts for the ANSF.”
The creating of a security bubble in their area of operations also led to one of the more significant accomplishments for the regional command, the building of a bridge in the district.
“During the rainy season, the local river swells and becomes impassable. Even our vehicles can’t cross it. This effectively cuts the district in half, and stops supplies to many people. The bridge unifies the district no matter what the season,” said Capt. William Patrick, 35, headquarters company commander, from San Diego, Calif. “We provided security while other units were able to come in and build the bridge.”
E-mail Staff Sgt. Robert M. Storm at firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor’s note: 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, is currently assigned to Regimental Combat Team 6, which heads Task Force Leatherneck. The task force serves as the ground combat element of Regional Command (Southwest) and works in partnership with the Afghan National Security Force and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations. The unit is dedicated to securing the Afghan people, defeating insurgent forces, and enabling ANSF assumption of security responsibilities within its area of operations in order to support the expansion of stability, development and legitimate governance.