Monday, December 22, 2008

Chairman of Joint Chiefs visits Marines, sailors in Afghanistan

Story by: Lance Cpl. Monty Burton

HELMAND PROVINCE, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen visited Marines and sailors deployed to Helmand Province, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Dec. 21.

Mullen visited Marines with 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, and Combat Logistics Battalion 3, the ground combat and logistics combat elements of Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force – Afghanistan.

Mullen was escorted by Lt. Col. David L. Odom, commanding officer of 3/8, whose battalion has been deployed to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan since early November.

During the day, Mullen was briefed on the battalion’s progress and on future operations in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. He was also briefed on the progress of the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police, who are currently being trained and mentored by Marines of SPMAGTF-A.

“The governor of the Farah Province said he wants more Marines to train the ANA and ANP,” Mullen said. “Training them is a growing mission and what I consider to be a critical path for success in Afghanistan. We have to make sure they can eventually lead this effort.”

At Forward Operating Base Bakwa, Mullen got the opportunity to see how the Marines were living at the FOB. Marines assigned to Company K shared lunch with Mullen, who answered any questions the Marines had. The Marines and sailors had the opportunity to discuss several different topics ranging from tour lengths to the predicted outcomes of upcoming sporting events.

Following the meal, Mullin boarded an Army UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter and made his way to FOB Delaram to meet with more Marines and sailors from Co. K.

In Delaram, Mullen was briefed on the current operational picture there and received a tour of the largest Marine Corps FOB in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

Following his time at FOB Delaram, Mullen proceeded to Camp Barber to meet with the Marines and sailors of 3/8 and CLB-3.

Sgt. Andre Green, the CLB-3 administrative chief, said it was very encouraging to see Mullen visit the Marines and sailors while deployed here.

“It was a very important visit because he can see what we are doing while we are deployed, and the junior Marines and sailors can see that he cares about us,” Green said. “It’s motivating to see that he took time out of his busy schedule to come out here and be with us.”

While at Camp Barber, Mullen had the honor of presenting a Navy hospital corpsman his fifth Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal. The recipient, Petty Officer 1st Class Israel Barrickman, 3/8’s Battalion Aid Station administrative chief, said being presented the medal by Mullen was definitely special to him.

“It meant more to know that my senior leadership could be here to present me this award,” he said. “It was definitely an honor.”
Posted by Picasa