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

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Different Kind of Fight

With the United States Marine’s job in Iraq coming to a close, there is a lot of gear and equipment still in the outpost and forward operating bases. Marine units currently deployed are now tasked with decreasing the amount of gear in the outposts so it can be sent back to the United States to be repaired and returned to the front line in other parts of the world. So far, 4th Platoon, Transportation Support Company, has completely closed down one combat outpost. They have also significantly reduced the amount of equipment in many other forward operating bases spread out through the Western Anbar Province. “We support every forward operating base and combat outpost in the western area of operation,” said by1st Lt. Jonathan Babineau, the platoon commander. “This applies to both resupply and retrograde support.” The platoon operates by conducting operations that resupply forward operating bases with the necessities such as food and water. After the platoon resupplies the base, they take some of the unnecessary, broken or outdated equipment. The returned gear is then sent back to Al Asad Air Base or Cm Al Taqaddum for further repair and retrograde. “Everything we do is in anticipation for when we have to completely withdraw from the bases,” Babineau said. “When word comes down that a base needs to be cleared there should be so little gear and equipment left that the process runs smoothly.” With the decrease in organized attacks from insurgents and the improvement in the Iraqi Army and Police Forces ability to control their own country, the US forces can concentrate on other things. “It’s a different fight now,” Babineau said. “We are now focused on withdrawing troops and equipment from most areas and turning over the bases to the Iraqi Army.” The reduction of most nonessential gear is an indication that the US is steadily withdrawing from Iraq.Click Here For the Full Story

Friday, October 16, 2009

Recruiting Gains Across the Board

During the fiscal year of 2009 all active and reserve branches met or exceeded both their numeric and quality recruiting goals. This is the first time this has happened in the 36 years that the United States Military has been an all-volunteer force. The Pentagon also reported that the retention of personal was also very successful in all of the branches. These gains have been thought to been connected to the slumping economy and an increased spending on recruiting. Enlistment bonus could also be a cause as well. Since about 40 percent of recruits received some sort of bonus for enlisting. The quality of recruits has also increased this year. The Army, for example, improved over 11 percent in the amount of its recruits being high school graduates. More specifically, the Army improved from 83 percent last year to 94.7 percent this year. The Air Force and Marine Corps lead the other services with 99 percent of recruits having a high school diploma. All the services combined have a 96 percent average compared to the national average of 75 percent of teen-agers graduating. From studies done by John Warner and Curtis Simon of Clemson University it has been estimated that for every 10 percent increase in unemployment, that in turn leads to a 3 to 4 percent increase in high-quality enlistment. Warner says there is also another study that suggests that there is a 5 percent increase. The recruiting goals of fiscal 2009 was met or surpassed by every branch. Overall, the department of defense met 103 percent of its recruiting goal. This was led by the Army with 108 percent of it goal being met and followed by the other 3 branches each meeting 100 percent of its goal. The reserve branches exceeded their goals even more. All the reserve branches combined met 104 percent of their goal. The reserve category was lead by the Marine Corps Reserve with meeting 122 percent of its goal.Click Here for the Full Story

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Combat Engineers Provide Peace of Mind for Afghans

Ever since the first raid in July on the Lakari Bazaar in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan, which turned up thousands of pounds of bomb making materials and drugs, the Taliban has continued to use it as a staging area. From this staging area, the Taliban has conducted more than 20 attacks on coalition troops in the vicinity from there. In an effort to combat this, more that 300 British troops conducted a second raid on the bazaar. In the raid they received fire from enemy positions and the threats were soon eliminated. To make sure the Taliban does not reclaim the bazaar again after the troops withdraw again. US Marine combat engineers constructed a patrol base less that one-mile away from the bazaar. After it is done being constructed, Afghan National Army soldiers and Marines will occupy the basses in an attempt to disrupt Taliban activity. “The base will give (2/8 Marines) an opportunity to project their influence on the Lakari market,” said platoon commander 2nd Lt. Mark H. Tetzel. Construction of the base started at 2 am when they arrived from their operating base for than 40 kilometers away. In order to give the base more protection from vehicle born IEDs, a 13-foot tall dirt berm was constructed around the compound around an already existing wall to create a standoff area. Building these posts and bases in the middle of towns and open desert takes a lot of moving parts. This build alone used the efforts of several units. Two Combined Anti-Armor Teams and Marines lead the 37-vehicle engineer convoy from their operating base. At the convoy’s tail, 60 Afghan National Army troops in vehicles provided rear security. Throughout the engineers’ deployment, they’ve built four observation posts, seven combat outposts of various sizes, and three patrol bases in Helmand province. After about 60 nonstop hours of working, the engineers completed the build next to the bazaar. After completion the Marines moved into the base with some afghan army soldiers in attempt to give other local Afghan people the freedom to shop and sell at the bazaar without the fear of the Taliban. Click Here For Story

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A Tough and Dirty Job for the Marines

In the Nimruz Province of Afghanistan, Marines of the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment have been searching ancient tunnels. These tunnels form a network between the snow-capped tops of the Buji Bhast Mountains and the very arid desert in the Nimruz Province. Most adventure junkies would love to have the opportunity to explore these tunnels. Although it is as far from fun as you could get for the Marines with the possibility of stumbling over an explosive set to be triggered. For the last couple years, insurgents have been using these tunnels as a form of secretive transportation and storage of materials that could make the very deadly IED’s, or improvised explosive devices. The Marines are putting a stop to this secret advantage the insurgents have had for many years. While searching the tunnels the Marines have found weapons, dwelling and trash. It is with out a doubt that the insurgents are using these tunnels to their advantage. Collapsing the tunnels would be the easiest thing to inhibit the insurgent’s use of them. Although that is out of the picture because that would severely affect farmers’ irrigation systems. That means the only way to deter the insurgents use of the tunnels is to search them personally or with a robot. These tunnels are wet, completely dark and range from 40 to 100 feet underground. A robot is used when it is too unsafe for a Marine to search the tunnels. The robots have has varying degrees of success searching the tunnels. "Yesterday we sent the bot into three holes. In the first one it could only go in about eight feet, so we had to go in, retrieve it and investigate on foot," said Markbot operator Cpl. Garrett Andrews the day after a series of tunnel hunts. "Later we sent the bot down but didn't see any man-made passages." The tunnel investigations also help with the programs to decrease the dependency of poppy growth to the economy of Afghanistan. The Marines can determine which wells will be irrigating which fields before the growing season starts. That way the government may have the ability to convince the farmers to grow something else. The government has been distributing bags of wheat starting last growing season. Click Here For the Full Story

Friday, September 25, 2009

An Afghan Bond Formed

Here is a little news from another part of the war in Afghanistan. Marines of the Marine Expeditionary Brigade-Afghanistan have been charged with the duty of training the Afghan National Army. Training at Camp Shimshod, Helmand province starts early but not before their morning prayer over a loud speaker. The men of the Afghan National Army are relatively young. They have also joined for different reasons. Although, the most common reason for their commitment could be summed up by Sgt. Masood Mhakbar’s quote. “I want to help Afghanistan.”
The Afghan National Army (ANA) are very eager to serve. They look to the International Security Assistance Force of United States Marines for their training. The Marines are acting a lot like our military advisors from France we had during American’s Revolution. The goal of the Marines is to give Afghanistan a sound military that can be relied on and be in place for many years to come. The Marines spend 24 hours a day with their Afghanistan counterparts. As well is the ANA, the Afghan National Police are also trained.
The Afghan soldiers have been become more and more active in military operations. Much more often they are leading patrols or posting forward and rear security. The Marines want the ANA to slowly start taking over tasks until they can act independently. The experience they are gaining with patrolling and working with the Marines has turned out to be invaluable. The ANA is stating to understand the logistical part of war. They are able to address their problems themselves instead of relying on US forces.
By living with the ANA, the Marines can better understand what their living conditions what needs to be done to increase their combat effectiveness. A bond has really formed between the ANA and the Marines. When not on post, they intermingle and joke around with each other. The Marines are finding their cultural differences interesting. Some of which is the drinking of a lot of tea and eating of watermelon. The ANA is looking forward to their next duty station thanks to the Marines training them. Click Here For the Whole Story

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Step in Marine Corps Aviation

Recently the Untied States Marine Corps made a rather large step in modernizing the planes in the Marine Corps Aviation. The KC-130J “Super Hercules” with its new “Harvest Hawk” mission kit have increased it battlefield capabilities drastically. “Harvest Hawk is a new surveillance and weapons system. The very first flight was flown by personnel from Navy Air Test and evaluation Squadron 20 and it marks the first time in the C-130’s 50 year service that it has the capability to fly armed into combat. This is because before now, the C-130 was strictly a transport or cargo plane. The new mission kit gives the Super Hercules aircrew first strike ability, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities with its targeting sight system. From more than a thousand feet away, The fire control operator of the plane will have the ability to get eyes on target. The new system will be located under the left wing’s external fuel tank. Lockheed Martin out fitted he plane with many other weapon system connected to the new surveillance systems to increase it combat effectiveness. The system also has the ability to be dismounted easily and calibrated in order to be mounted with other “Super Hercules” . This means that with only one system that can be switched, around the clock surveillance can be achieved. This is because when a plane needs to be maintained they can just take off the system and put in on a pane ready to go. Maj Jeffry P. Pellegrino said “The Harvest Hawk mission kits will usher in a new era of Marine aviation, bringing a more versatile aircraft into the fight. It’s a flying Swiss Army knife, and we must continue to take advantage of its versatility. This mission kit will bring tremendous agility and flexibility to the MAGTF commander.” There are also plans to retro fit all the “Super Hercules” with the system. After the many test flights, it was concluded the new system did not hamper the maneuverability of the plane in any way while drastically increasing it combat effectiveness.Click Here to Read the Story

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Latest From the Helmand Province

Just a couple days ago marked the one-hundredth day of being in Afghanistan for the Marines of the MEB or the Marine Expeditionary Brigade-Afghanistan. The MEB, which was nicknamed Task Force Leatherneck, was transferred control of the Helmand province in southern Afghanistan. The name leatherneck originated from the uniform Marines wore from 1775 to 1875. This uniform consisted of a thick leather strap that went around the neck of the Marine. It is said that the leather was designed to protect the Marine from sword strikes to the neck and to always keep the Marine’s neck erect.
Task Force Leatherneck is 10,000 strong and began planning operations while securing perimeters to provide defense for crews creating forward operating bases. Nearing the 100th day in the Helmand province, a lot of progress has been made thanks to the efforts of the MEB with conjunction with Afghan National Security Forces. On July 2nd Operation Khanjar (Strike of the Sword) was initialed to protect the people of Afghanistan from insurgents, criminals and drug lords who, until now, have destabilized the region. The MEB has also created training programs for the Afghan Police and army forces as part of the Marines effort to create a positive relationship with the civilian population. Thousands of hours have been put into working with the Afghan troops and police officers, training them in different combat and security operations. There have been a lot of behind the seen support of the main advance. Aviation maintenance personnel have put in almost 18,000 maintenance hours since they arrived in the Helmand province. Their hard work was in support of the pilots and aircrews who conduct assault support, close-are support, strikes on targets and resupply operations. All of the air support is for the boots on the ground. Sgt. Maj. Eugene Miller gives his opinion of the Marines in the Helmand Province, “The Marines have performed superbly. The further you go out from Camp Dwyer, the higher the morale. These Marines want some and are getting some. They’re doing the exact things they came into the Marine Corps to do – to fight, win and accomplish those things they thought of when they joined.”
Lt. Col Matthew Kolich is Commander of Regimental Combat Team 3 in the Helmand Province. “The local nationals are starting to come over to our side,” said Kolich, assistant operations chief for RCT-3. “The Taliban are on their last legs in some areas ... Locals are capturing Taliban and turning them over to Afghan security forces. Over the last few weeks, we have been able to make huge strides in freedom of movement.”

Monday, August 31, 2009

Intro into Marine Corps News

Marine Corps News is about the latest and greatest in the United States Marine Corps. This includes the latest news from overseas, the home front, new technology and tactics implemented and any major doctrine changes. This blog also serves as way to support Marines oversees, more specifically Afghanistan. For until recently, their sacrifices have been nearly forgotten by many and omitted from the mainstream media. This is the perfect blog for any Marine, relative of a Marine or anyone interested in learning about the corps and what is new in it. The United States Marine Corps is one of the finest fighting forces in the world. One of the reasons for this is the continued advancement, refinement and self-criticism the Corps goes through is all aspects. This blog will make it easy to follow the Marine Corps in their most recent advance in Afghanistan and any news about the Corps or other news that affects the Corps, with weekly posts. Although the overlaying objective of this blog is to bring the whole story from Afghanistan, not just the body count that the mainstream media so commonly seems to emphasize. This blog also serves as a tribute to fallen Marines who gave their life for their country and any other countries in need. Biographies of fallen Marines will be presented so everyone can realize what they did and so you can pray for their families. Be sure to check Marine Corp News weekly to find out the latest in the United States Marine Corps. Click here for the latest news