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.”