Friday, December 11, 2009

Special Farewell Post

The previous post is the last post of Marine Corps News. I would like to take the time to thank anyone who read this blog and hope you have gained a better appreciation of what the Marines and all allied forces are really doing overseas. If you would like to continue knowing the latest from Afghanistan, you can check the links on my page. Please keep all service members in your hearts and prayers.

Semper Fidelis
"Always Faithful"

Marines Try to Make Police out of Local Afghans

In accordance with President Obama’s new strategy in Afghanistan, the Marines have begun training Afghans to make up Afghanistan’s police force. The 13 trainees were sent by the Afghan government and were ordered to live and train with the Marines. They would accompany the Marines on explosive ordinance searches but were more of a hindrance than help. Most of the trainees would be joking around while to Marines were very tense and searching for buried bombs in a small remote town in southern Afghanistan. In the city of Khan Neshin of the Helmand Province, all the previous police member were fired because of failing a drug test and for stealing from the markets and bazaars. Unfortunately, these police have given the Afghan National Police a bad name in the city and the new police that are arriving have next to no training. There are a few new policemen that have received training at newly established police academies but the majority has not. This is where the Marines are called to come in. The Marines must help by training recruits that are not able to attend other Police academies. According to the 18-year old recruit, Mohamed Ullah, “I want to bring peace and security to my country.” The Marine’s began each training day with the basics of patrolling and searching for bombs, both on the ground and on people. In the style of warfare in Afghanistan, a lot of guidance is required from local people. A well trained police force of local people many help substantially with that cultural connection. The Lieutenant, Sayed Mohamed, of the recruits the Marines are training is the only one with any prior experience. He has been very effective in communicating with the local populous. He is also the only one that does not wear a bulletproof vest; this is to try to make him seem more accessible. “I tell the locals that we will change the behavior of the police,” Mohammed said. “I’m going to make a place in their hearts for me and my officers.” Click Here For the Full Story

Friday, December 4, 2009

Major Afghan Offensive Launched

Following the troop surge announced by president Barack Obama, a massive air assault was conducted. This air assault was made up of 1000 Marines and 150 Afghan Army Soldiers. The assaulting force was infiltrated using the V-22 Osprey. With the incredible amount of speed the V-22 possesses and it ability to land vertically, the forces were able to land behind the enemy lines and catch the Taliban completely off guard. Supply and communication lines could be cut off and hundred of pounds of explosives could be recovered. The explosives cache was a huge find because those explosives were probably planned on being used by the insurgents as improvised explosive devices or more commonly known as IED’s or roadside bombs. Today, road size bomb have caused the most casualties among American and friendly forces. As of right now, there have been no friendly casualties and According to Maj. William Pelletier, the Marine spokesman on the operations, "Right now, the enemy is confused and disorganized," Pelletier said by telephone from Camp Leatherneck, the main Marines base in Helmand. "They're fighting, but not too effectively." Following the air assault, a larger force pushed forward from the their forward operating base. They traveled on the ground in an attempt to clear a path though the extensive minefield that the Taliban have constructed. The Marines have used steamroller and explosives to clear a path for more advances. This all occurred three days after Barack Obama announced that he would be increasing the US presence in Afghanistan by 30,000 troops. It is also said the our European allies will be sending 7000 additional troops to Afghanistan while planning on sending more additional troops in the not to distant future. It is said that it can be expected that most of the new troops being deployed to Afghanistan will be sent to sothern Afghanistan. Sothern Afghanistan and more specifically the Helmand Province is where the Taliban is the strongest. Click Here For the Full Story

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Toys for Tots 2009 Kicks Off

The opening ceremonies for the Toys for Tots Program were kicked off at Camp Foster, Okinawa and at Kendena Air Base. Toys for Tots is a program that was adopted in 1946 by the Marine Corps Reserve. It is a program where people donate toys to be distributed to children in need by Christmas. The Toys for Tots coordinator for the 2009 Okinawa campaign, Gunnery Sgt. Suzette S Smith, says, "This is one of the few campaigns the Marine Corps is known for, not only is the military showing goodwill to the community, it is increasing the Marine Corps' visibility and recognition." With the widespread participation of Toys for Tots all the way across the United States, the program has become very successful. Last year the Okinawa campaign raised over 13000 toys, 3,000 more toys than the goal. Smith says that this year the goal is to greatly surpass last years 13,000 mark. The majority of the collection boxes are located in all the base exchanges, chapels, personal service centers on all the service’s bases on Okinawa. The program is also planned to kick off this year on bases in the United States soon. The collection boxes are not limited to military bases. There will be many locations around municipal parts of towns all over America. There is a need for a lot of volunteers to run the collection centers. "We need lots and lots of volunteers to help with collection boxes, warehousing and the special events. We take toys for ages zero to 18 but are especially needy for toys for the older kids" said Cpl. Shivali Sharma, a volunteer coordinator for the campaign from the Reserve Liaison Office. Any service member can volunteer but Marines must wear their dress blues and other service must wear their equivalent. Any toy that is donated must be unwrapped and new. Participation in the program with be greatly appreciated. Click Here for the Full Story

Friday, November 13, 2009

Taliban Fortress Inhabited by Marines

Since August 1st 2009, Marines of Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine has set up operation out of an old Taliban fortress. The fortress has been come to be know as the “the mansion.” This is not usual for the Marines. Marines throughout history have shown that they have the ability to make any place “home.” Home can be anything from: sand, gravel, dirt or a newly captured Taliban compound. According to local Afghans, the compound formally belonged to a drug lord. The drug lord started building it to house his entire family but it was never completed because he was arrested and taken away. The Marines were tasked with capturing the compound and the mansion that was centered in the compound. It was believed that insurgent forces had moved into the vacant compound. When the Marines whet to capture the compound, they encountered some resistance but it was promptly eliminated. The mansion itself was empty; insurgents occupied only the outlying areas of the computed. The empty mansion was in a lot of disarray. "It was a real mess when we first got here," said Cpl. Jacob Mikesell, 22, a mortarman from Papillion, Neb. "There was grass growing up to our chests, the buildings had mounds of dust covering everything and trash was thrown all over the place." The Marines and Afghan Army soldiers stationed there are conduct both foot and vehicle patrols to in an attempt to keep the surrounding areas safe and to keep the Taliban from recruiting new members. After we moved in, locals told us that most of the Taliban in the area had run away," said Sgt. Nicholas Hine, a squad leader with Weapons Co., 1/5. "But we know there are still some here who are trying to coerce the population to go against us." This new acquisition gives the Marines the ability to get close to the locals and learn and understand their needs and problems. Click Here for hte Full Story

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Different Spin on Martial Arts

While at the Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Japan, select Marines were given the opportunity to take part in an Israeli Krav Maga course. The course took place in both Penny Lake and Iron Works Gym and lasted a week. Krav Maga is a hand to hand combat system that originated in Israel in the late 1940’s and it translated means “ contact combat” or close combat.” As opposed to combat using distance weaponry, such as guns, rifles, aircraft, tanks or artillery, Krav Mega is a combat the involves body contact. “There are more similarities than differences between Israeli Krav Maga and the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program as we get deeper into the comparison,” said David Kahn, Israeli Krav Maga Association U.S. Chief Instructor and IKMA board member. Marine Corps Martial Arts Program or MCMAP is the Marine Corps own martial arts program that combines many different kinds of previously established martial art. Like MCMAP, Krav Maga was developed for the military so it fit nicely in the class. Due to the similarities in the fighting styles, the Marines in the course picked it up very quickly. Many of the Marines taking the course have belts in Japanese and Brrazilian Jiu Jitsu and Tai boxing. Therefore they have an extensive martial arts background. “The Marines are very receptive,” said Kahn. “We are truly honored to be here. They are putting magnificent effort in it.” The class was given to the Marines aboard the station thanks to Lt. Col. Tray J. Ardese, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron commanding officer, who invited the Israeli Krav Maga instructors. The marines worked on countering knives, batons and ground, firearms or anything that a marine would come across in a real combat situation. According to Zahn, “It’s been a tremendous and positive experience, it’s truly been an honor.”Click Here for the full Story

Friday, October 30, 2009

Insurgent Cache Discoverd

While on a two-day mission, Marines of the combined Anti-Armor Team 1 discovered weapons and drugs while conducting searches in Afghanistan. The cache contained more that a 1000 rounds of ammunition, 50 pounds of heroin, cocaine, and homemade explosives that could be used as IED’s. The compounds around this village were believed to be used by the Taliban. According to 1st Lt. Travis C Onischuk, the mission was to deny the enemy the ability to use compounds in the area to launch attacks and plant IEDs in the near by road. He says they are going to hit them where they think they have safe haven. Marines of the Combined Anit-Armor Team 1 and Weapons Company joined forces and cleared the road and villages looking for insurgents. Along the way, the Marines set up vehicle checkpoints. At the same time, units started conducting house-to-house searches. The Marines, with the help Afghan National Army, were looking for weapons and IED-making materials. While conducting the searches, three fully loaded assault rifle magazines were found. On the initial search, these magazines were the only suspicious things. Nevertheless, they were suspicious enough to warrant another search of the house. On the second search of the house, a young corporal started tapping on the walls to see if they were hollow. Soon enough, he came across a section of the wall that made a much different sound. Behind these false walls, many weapons and drugs were found. The owner of the house was taken into custody, for questioning, by the Afghan National Army. He was believed to be a member of the Taliban or sympathetic to the Taliban. The Corporal is glad that they were able to find some dangerous thing and hoped that they made a difference in the area by confiscating the weapons and drugs. Click Here For the Full Story