Tuesday, December 2, 2008

3/8 takes lead as Marine Corps’ ground combat element in Southern Afghanistan

Story by: Lance Cpl. Brian D. Jones

CAMP BARBER, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – Marines and sailors of the Camp Lejeune, N.C.-based 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, assumed authority as the ground combat element of Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force - Afghanistan Nov. 26.

The infantrymen of 3/8 join Marine air and logistics combat elements from around the Marine Corps, as well as a Marine headquarters command element, to form the fully integrated, 2,000-man Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force – Afghanistan.

The incoming battalion relieved the Camp Pendleton, Calif.-based 2nd Bn., 7th Marines, after 2/7’s eight-month deployment here. While serving as the ground combat element of SPMAGTF – A, 3/8’s mission is to conduct counterinsurgency operations, and train and mentor the Afghan National Police.

According to Staff Sgt. Bradley R. Myers, 3/8’s assistant operations chief, the Marines and sailors of 2/7 built positive working relationships with alliance forces and the Afghan National Police, leaving 3/8 with a foundation to build on.

“Their job was to get the ANP up and running and implemented, and they have done that with pretty good success,” Myers said.

Marine Forces have experience in Afghanistan and are well suited for a variety of missions to support the needs of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and NATO’s International Security Assistance Forces in the region. After several months of rigorous training specifically tailored for operations here, 3/8 has arrived well prepared for its mission, with many experienced combat veterans in its ranks to lead the way.

“I feel we are going to do well out here,” said Myers. “We have a lot of experience to bring to the table, and we will work through every situation that finds us. These Marines out here have had to adapt to different operations a good bit during their workup cycle, so I’m sure they will be ready to adapt to anything out here.”

Operations will focus on creating a foundation for the future of Afghanistan. While here, Marines will protect human rights, promote shared values, and respect the Afghan culture, traditions and religion.

“The Marines of 2/7 have started us off for success,” said Myers. “They started at ground zero and built up the forward operation bases. They did an outstanding job building a platform for us to come fall in on to build on from here.”
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