Saturday, February 28, 2009

Special, purpose, marine, air, ground, task, force, Afghanistan, MAGTF, global, war terror, grunts, infantry, combat, logistics, battalion, 3/8, regim

Date written: Feb. 18, 2009
Story by Lance Cpl. Ronald W. Stauffer


CAMP BARBER, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – The first platoon of Battery D, 2nd Battalion, 14th Marine Regiment, test-fired its first rocket in-country from a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System at Camp Barber, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Feb. 15, 2009.

The El Paso, Texas-based Marine Corps Reserve battery conducted a full-scale fire mission scenario, proving it’s fully capable of firing and hitting its target within minutes and with deadly accuracy.

“I thought it went extremely well, and it was good to see the Marines receive the fruits of their labor,” said Maj. Frankie P. Delgado, the battery commander. “They did great and were on target.”
Within minutes, the battery was able to reach its firing point, set its rocket pod, receive coordinates, and deliver a global positioning system-aided rocket into a predetermined grid.

The battery’s mission is to support Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force – Afghanistan as a fire support asset.
According to Delgado, the three-man crewed weapons system cradles six 200-pound rockets capable of destroying targets more than 70 kilometers away, striking with an accuracy up to an impressive eight meters.

Delgado said the battery is here to hit “higher value” targets, and the system can be used as an alternative to air strikes.
“We’re a great asset when you say you want to engage a particular target and not put innocent people in danger,” Delgado said. “We’re ready to take the fight to the enemy.”

Delgado said he sees the unit being a critical asset to SPMAGTF-A and in comparison to most air strikes, the enemy will never see the system’s rocket until it’s too late.

Although the Army has previously used the HIMARS in Afghanistan, the battery’s recent test-fire marked the first time the Marine Corps fired a HIMARS in Afghanistan, creating a page in the history books for the 150-Marine battery.

“We’ve been training for a long time, and we all wanted to do our job,” said Cpl. Luis A. Cardenas, a launcher chief with first platoon.
The Marine Corps designated 2/14 as a HIMARS unit in 2006, transitioning what was formerly an artillery-oriented battery from its howitzer cannons to the more advanced HIMARS.

“There’s no adjusting,” Delgado said. “You give us a grid, we’re going to hit that grid.”

The battery conducted three years of training in order to prepare for its receipt and use of the HIMARS and was called to active duty in October 2008. In November, the battery received notice to shift its focus toward Afghanistan.

“The weapons systems are 180 degrees apart from each other,” Delgado said, comparing the HIMARS to traditional howitzers. “It’s a new weapons system with GPS tracking. It’s like a scalpel versus a butcher knife.”

Delgado said just one of the HIMARS’ six rocket tubes can inflict the same amount of battle damage as one artillery cannon, but HIMARS has greater accuracy, mobility and less chance of being outside its target area.

Delgado also said some of the advantages of the systems are that they are transportable via C-130 cargo transport aircraft, lightweight and can get onto a road, drive to a point, fire and drive back before being detected.

“It’s (exciting) and it feels good,” Akin said. “For a reserve unit, I think it’s a good thing for the HIMARS to be in Afghanistan. Our Marines are always motivated and there’s a lot of pride.”

Akin said the battery has been at the camp for more than three weeks and was excited because they got to fire the system for the first time during the deployment.

“This is the tightest and most professional battery I’ve been with thus far, and it couldn’t have happened to a better group of guys,” Delgado said. “We are the fire support for SPMAGTF-A.”

Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force – Afghanistan’s mission is to conduct counterinsurgency operations, with a focus on training and mentoring the Afghan National Police.
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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Marines mentor, forge close ties with Afghan National Police

Date written: Feb. 11, 2009
Story by Lance Cpl. Brian D. Jones


SHOUZ, Herat Province, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – Five U.S. Marine noncommissioned officers are making a difference in the lives of Afghans through their personal interaction with Afghan National Police recruits at the Shouz Police Training Center in Herat Province, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

The select group of Marines from 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment (Reinforced), the ground combat element of Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force – Afghanistan, have been working closely with the ANP and its recruits, assisting in mentoring and instructing since mid-January. Their goal is simple: help the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan develop a sustainable police force.

“I actually feel like we are making a difference out here,” said Sgt. Nicholas Fagerquist, the senior NCO among the five Marines. “We’re not even finished yet and (the policemen) have great military discipline, they’re eager to learn, they’re motivated, they’re being proactive opposed to being reactive, and that’s something you don’t usually see.”

American law enforcement instructors lead the eight-week program at Shouz, while empowering Afghan police instructors to train the Afghan police recruits. Stepping in to lead by example, the Marines offer their help to the students and instructors assisting them in meeting the required training objectives. The cadre of Marines invoke leadership qualities among the students by doing what Marines do best: teaching the ANP recruits how to step up and take a leadership role among their peers.

“We make them realize that (being a policeman) is more than a (paycheck), it’s a big responsibility,” said Cpl. Thomas A. Moss.

The American law enforcement instructors at Shouz utilize the Marines’ skills for teaching military tactics, techniques and procedures.

Together, they’re trying to develop a police force that can both apprehend criminals and suppress insurgent attacks.

“It’s not like in the United States where a cop responds to a call,” Moss said. “They have to deal with drug smugglers more often, and they have to deal with people attacking their compound.”

The cadre of Marines has firsthand knowledge of the situations the ANP are faced with here and recognizes which training objectives need to be emphasized based on their own experience patrolling with the ANP in different districts. Because of this, the Marines add valuable insight to the American law enforcement instructors’ approach to training the ANP.

The Marines’ efforts go well beyond the classroom. The Marines have developed close working relationships with the ANP instructors and recruits at the training center through the help of interpreters. Through conversation, they have found common ground between them and have built strong bonds.

“I feel we have built a really good bridge with the working relationships between us and the (Afghans),” said Fagerquist. “I’ve never had any problem with the Afghan locals, and now I enjoy working with them even more.”

Moss said, when the Marines first met the recruits they were shunned by them and the recruits didn’t want to speak to them, but the tables have turned. The Afghans now have a greater understanding of what the Marines’ role is within their country and now not only trust them but genuinely like them as well.

“They’re no longer students, they’re coworkers,” said Fagerquist.

Once training is complete the Marines plan to return to the Afghan provinces with the newly trained police.

“It’s going to show the (communities) that Marines are here, we do care, and we are here to help them and enable them to be a better country,” said Moss. “We’re not here to be an occupying force. We are here to help them out to the best capacity that we can.”

“We know that most of these guys really do care about their province and they’re not just here to make money,” said Moss. “They actually want to make their community better.”

The Marines continue to train and mentor the ANP in order to provide the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan with an effective, sustainable and professional police force. As the ANP become capable of sustaining security and force development, Marines will turn more responsibilities over to them.

“I know they’re going to help us out more and vice versa,” said Fagerquist. “They’re not just looking the role, they’re being the role. I know it’s going to increase the tempo of the missions of really hammering down on the bad guys.”
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Sunday, February 8, 2009

Marine Forces Central general visits Marines in Afghanistan

CAMP BARBER, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – Lt. Gen. Samuel Helland (left) promotes Cpl. Jonathan D. Radu (right), a squad leader with Company K, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment (Reinforced), to the rank of sergeant on Camp Barber, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Feb. 6, 2009. Helland, the commander of U.S. Marine Forces Central Command, visited Marines of 3/8 and Combat Logistics Battalion 3, the ground and logistics combat elements of Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force – Afghanistan, to inform them of current Marine Corps issues. SPMAGTF-A stands with the Afghan people as a strategic partner in building an effective and sustainable security force to defend their nation.
(photo by Lance Cpl. Brian D. Jones)
CAMP BARBER, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – Lt. Gen. Samuel Helland speaks with Marines during a visit to Camp Barber, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Feb. 6, 2009. Helland, the commander of U.S. Marine Forces Central Command, visited the Marines of 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment (Reinforced), and Combat Logistics Battalion 3, the ground and logistics combat elements of Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force – Afghanistan, to discuss morale and welfare initiatives and make sure the Marines are supplied properly for combat effectiveness. SPMAGTF-A and NATO’s International Security Assistance Force support the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in its efforts to provide security and services to the Afghan people.
(photo by Lance Cpl. Brian D. Jones)
CAMP BARBER, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – Lt. Gen. Samuel Helland answers questions from Marines at Camp Barber, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Feb. 6, 2009. Helland, the commander of U.S. Marine Forces Central Command, visited the Marines of 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment (Reinforced), and Combat Logistics Battalion 3, the ground and logistics combat elements of Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force – Afghanistan, as part of his battlefield tour of southern Afghanistan. SPMAGTF-A is here to assist the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in finding Afghan solutions to Afghan issues.
(photo by Lance Cpl. Brian D. Jones)
CAMP BARBER, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – Lt. Gen. Samuel Helland discusses Marine Corps issues with Marines at Camp Barber, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Feb. 6, 2009. Helland, the commander of U.S. Marine Forces Central Command, visited the Marines of 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment (Reinforced), and Combat Logistics Battalion 3, the ground and logistics combat elements of Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force – Afghanistan, to get a better understanding of how the Marines are living and operating. SPMAGTF-A assists the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in providing aid and services to the Afghan people.
(photo by Lance Cpl. Brian D. Jones)
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Assistant Commandant visits Afghanistan Marines part 2

CAMP BARBER, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – Gen. James F. Amos addresses the Marines of 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment (Reinforced), and Combat Logistics Battalion 3, the ground and logistics combat elements of Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force – Afghanistan, during a visit to Camp Barber, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Feb. 5, 2009. Amos, the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, made the visit to get a better understanding of how the Marines are living and operating.
U.S. Marines are in Afghanistan to reinforce success and sustain the momentum of the ongoing progress by alliance forces.
(photo by Lance Cpl. Brian D. Jones)
CAMP BARBER, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – Gen. James F. Amos addresses the Marines of 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment (Reinforced), and Combat Logistics Battalion 3, the ground and logistics combat elements of Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force – Afghanistan, during a visit to Camp Barber, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Feb. 5, 2009. Amos, the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, made the visit to get a better understanding of how the Marines are living and operating.
U.S. Marines are in Afghanistan to reinforce success and sustain the momentum of the ongoing progress by alliance forces.
(photo by Lance Cpl. Brian D. Jones)
CAMP BARBER, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – Gen. James F. Amos holds a town hall meeting with the Marines of 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment (Reinforced), and Combat Logistics Battalion 3, the ground and logistics combat elements of Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force – Afghanistan, during a visit to Camp Barber, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Feb. 5, 2009. Amos, the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, made the visit to get a better understanding of how the Marines are living and operating. U.S. Marines are in Afghanistan to reinforce success and sustain the momentum of the ongoing progress by alliance forces.
(photo by Lance Cpl. Brian D. Jones)
CAMP BARBER, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – Gen. James F. Amos (right of center) is briefed by Brig. Gen. Richard M. Lake (right) and Lt. Col. Michael Jernigan (left) during a visit to Camp Barber, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Feb. 5, 2009. Amos, the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, and Lake visited the Marines to increase their situational awareness of the Marines’ area of operations in southern Afghanistan. Lake is the director of intelligence at Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps. Jernigan is the commanding officer of Combat Logistics Battalion 3, the logistics combat element of Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force – Afghanistan. U.S. Marines are in Afghanistan to reinforce success and sustain the momentum of the ongoing progress by alliance forces.
(photo by Lance Cpl. Brian D. Jones)
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Friday, February 6, 2009

Assistant commandant visits Afghanistan Marines

KANDAHAR AIR FIELD, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos speaks to Marines and sailors with Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force – Afghanistan Feb. 5, 2009, on Kandahar Air Field, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Amos visited the deployed service members to thank them for their service and share his perspective regarding the new administration, policy changes, additional troops and fielding new equipment in Afghanistan. “I want you to have confidence in the new administration,” he said. “Everything I’ve seen from our president has just been rock solid.”
(photo by Sgt. Juan D. Alfonso)
KANDAHAR AIR FIELD, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos speaks to Marines and sailors with Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force – Afghanistan Feb. 5, 2009, on Kandahar Air Field, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Amos visited the deployed service members to thank them for their service and share his perspective regarding the new administration, policy changes, additional troops and fielding new equipment in Afghanistan. “I want you to have confidence in the new administration,” he said. “Everything I’ve seen from our president has just been rock solid.”
(photo by Sgt. Juan D. Alfonso)
KANDAHAR AIR FIELD, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan –Marines and sailors with Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force – Afghanistan listen to Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos and members of the commandant’s staff Feb. 5, 2009, on Kandahar Air Field, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Amos visited the deployed service members to thank them for their service and share his perspective regarding the new administration, policy changes, additional troops and fielding new equipment in Afghanistan.
(photo by Sgt. Juan D. Alfonso)
KANDAHAR AIR FIELD, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos speaks with Master Gunnery Sgt. Douglas R. Thurston Feb. 5, 2009, on Kandahar Air Field, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Amos visited the deployed service members to thank them for their service and share his perspective regarding the new administration, policy changes, additional troops and fielding new equipment in Afghanistan. Thurston is the communications section chief for Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force – Afghanistan.
(photo by Sgt. Juan D. Alfonso)
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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Marines, Afghan National police patrol Farah Province

FARAH PROVINCE, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – An Afghan National Policeman maintains security during a patrol with Marines with Company K, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment (Reinforced), in Farah Province, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Jan. 24, 2009. 3/8 is the ground combat element of Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force – Afghanistan. By partnering with Afghan security forces, SPMAGTF-A strengthens the ability of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to protect its people.(photo by Cpl. Pete Thibodeau)














FARAH PROVINCE, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – Seaman Apprentice Brian Uibel, a hospital corpsman with Company K, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment (Reinforced), and an Afghan National Policeman stand outside a store during a patrol through a local bazaar in Farah Province, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Jan. 24, 2009. 3/8 is the ground combat element of Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force – Afghanistan. By partnering with Afghan security forces, SPMAGTF-A strengthens the ability of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to protect its people.(photo by Cpl. Pete Thibodeau)
FARAH PROVINCE, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – An Afghan National Army soldier maintains security with Marines with Company K, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment (Reinforced), as ANA soldiers conduct vehicle inspections in Farah Province, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Jan. 25, 2009. 3/8 is the ground combat element of Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force – Afghanistan. The vehicle inspections and personnel searches help to ensure security in the area. By partnering with Afghan security forces, SPMAGTF-A strengthens the ability of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to protect its people.(photo by Cpl. Pete Thibodeau)
FARAH PROVINCE, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – An Afghan National Army soldier maintains security with Marines with Company K, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment (Reinforced), as ANA soldiers conduct vehicle inspections in Farah Province, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Jan. 25, 2009. 3/8 is the ground combat element of Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force – Afghanistan. The vehicle inspections and personnel searches help to ensure security in the area. By partnering with Afghan security forces, SPMAGTF-A strengthens the ability of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to protect its people.(photo by Cpl. Pete Thibodeau)
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Afghan National Police, Marines show presence in Delaram marketplace

Date written: Feb. 2, 2009
Story by Lance Cpl. Brian D. Jones


DELARAM, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – Afghan National Policemen and U.S. Marines patrolled together through the marketplace of the district center of Delaram, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, in search of illegal activity and contraband Jan. 24, 2009.

The Marines of 1st Platoon, Company K, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment (Reinforced), the ground combat element of Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force – Afghanistan, assisted the ANP with searching for narcotics and improvised explosive device-making materials as part of the alliance’s counterinsurgency operations.

The Marines met with the ANP just inside of the city at a fortified police station and immediately the ANP were ready and willing to go. In a matter of moments, the patrol stepped off on foot to maneuver through the city’s crowded bazaar to talk with store owners in an effort to develop a sense of activities within the community.

“Today’s mission was to conduct a patrol in Delaram with the ANP,” said Cpl. Alan D. Morales, the squad leader who led the patrol. “Our platoon’s mission was to work alongside of the ANP while training them and also making sure they are doing the right things. Whenever we go out on patrols, we go with ANP in order to teach them and mentor them.”

Morales went on to say how important it is for the ANP to make its presence known in the area.

“We’re making sure there is an Afghan face out there,” said Morales. “That way the people don’t see (Marines) as the only ones that provide security.”

The Marines of 3/8 arrived in Delaram in late November and have experienced relative stability in the city. According to Morales, the locals within the city are generally always friendly and pleased with the security that alliance forces have provided them.
“They say it’s a lot better than what it used to be in the past,” said Morales. “They are all happy knowing that we always come out and keep the bad guys away.”

On patrol, the ANP and Marines stopped in local businesses. The ANP’s presence in the shops helps to deter the trade of narcotics and IED-making materials. Most all of the shops were found to be legitimate businesses with little doubt as to whether or not they supported the trade or distribution of illegal substances or IED-making materials.

“The (ANP) have a lot of good guys,” said Morales. “They work hard every time we are out there. They do a good job searching people. We let them do most of the searching as far as people go. They’re good at searching cars as well.”

Darren W. Bullard, a U.S. Department of Defense civilian who works closely with the Marines as one of the battalion’s law enforcement professionals, gives the patrols an edge by teaching the ANP tactical patrolling, searching and questioning procedures. He points out the items in shops used to make IEDs, making the ANP aware of what to look for as well.

“Things went real well,” said Bullard. “Several shops are starting to get used to us and recognize our faces whenever we come in. They want us to sit down and drink tea with them and talk, which is a good thing. We didn’t find a whole lot of items that could be used for IEDs, but we did get a little bit of (relevant) info here and there though.”

Bullard said the newly-appointed policemen are becoming more of an asset to the Afghan community as they use of the tactics they are being taught. Bullard is teaching the policemen how to recognize relative clues to illegal activity during their searches.

“You just have to make sure you ask them (ANP) a lot of direct questions,” said Bullard. “They have information, but they usually don’t share that with you unless you just out-right ask.”

Bullard attributes any challenges in communication to differences in culture, but he is pleased with the Marines’ and ANP’s progress in overcoming it. The ANP regularly patrol the city with the assistance of Bullard and the Marines in order to protect the community. Becoming more familiar with the community helps both the ANP and Marines to obtain the information they need to serve the citizens they protect.
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Monday, February 2, 2009

Afghan National Army, Marines provide humanitarian assistance to remote Afghan village

Date written: Feb 1, 2009
Story by Lance Cpl. Brian D. Jones


QAMBARAN, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – Afghan National Army soldiers provided humanitarian assistance to locals of the southern Afghan village of Qambaran, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Jan. 26, 2009, with the assistance of alliance forces.

The ANA took the lead during the operation, while being escorted by U.S. Marines of 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment (Reinforced), the ground combat element of Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force – Afghanistan, and a team of Italian soldiers of the 186th Parachutist Regiment, 207th Corps. The mission was to build relationships with the villagers while driving a wedge between the locals and insurgents in a known hostile environment.

“We were out there to let them know that they do have a government, and ANA and Afghan National Police are standing up in their area,” said Sgt. Jesus O. Luna, a Marine with 3rd Civil Affairs Group, SPMAGTF-A.

The Afghan and Italian soldiers and U.S. Marines traveled many hours over desolate and difficult terrain to arrive at the village. In such a remote location, the locals there had never witnessed the presence of the ANA before.

“They’re so far removed from other areas that only a few patrols have been up there since the 1980s when the Russians were here,” said 1st Lt. Adam J. Felde, the Weapons Platoon commander of Company K. “We were probably the second, maybe the third American force to have ever been up to Qambaran. The first time we went up there about a month ago, they wouldn’t even look at us. They were more receptive this time.”

“It was the first time the locals and even the older men there have ever reported seeing ANA up there,” said Felde. “A lot of times, the locals don’t even know the ANA are even Muslim. They just think of them as foreigners. They didn’t pay much attention to (U.S. Marines) at all. They were very focused on the ANA.”

The ANA soldiers greeted the villagers and handed out blankets and sweaters provided to them through the donations of the nonprofit organization Spirit of America.

Luna commented on how helpful the donations from Spirit of America were during his previous tour in Iraq and believes they will be just as effective in Afghanistan to help International Security Assistance Forces conduct counterinsurgency operations.

“Anything we get from Spirit of America we give to the ANA to pass out,” said Luna. “It helps the Afghan people build trust and confidence in their government. Everything helps immensely.”

“The (ANA) love it,” said Luna. “They say they just want to keep going out with us because they get to pass out stuff, and they get to put little smiles on faces. They like it just as much as we do.”

U.S. Navy physicians and a doctor from the Italian armed forces also joined in, providing medical attention to those who stepped forward.

One local man, approximately 70-years-old, commented by saying, “You must be here to help us because you’re not hurting us. You are helping us,” as translated by an interpreter.

The medical personnel arrived with a variety of over-the-counter medications, prescription meds and other much-needed items, such as bandages, dressings and antibiotic ointments.

The physicians assisted approximately 25-50 Afghans from ages 3 to 80 years old with a variety of symptoms from lower back pain, arthritis and headaches to cold symptoms and children with regular viral colds and what one physician referred to as “a few interesting cases.”

“I expected to be taken aback a little bit by the situation,” said Lt. j.g. Kevin A. Goodell, a physician assistant with the Shock Trauma Plt. of Combat Logistics Battalion 3, the logistics combat element of SPMAGTF-A. “When you see people living in those standards with very little, you can’t help but to compare it with your own life. (It) might not be fair to do, but seeing (the conditions), you can’t help but to be touched by it.”

The physicians treated one child with a chronic infection on his foot, which they were able to treat with antibiotics. Another child was treated for a parasitic infection.

Goodell described the treatment he helped provide as an overall rewarding experience.

“They seemed to be very grateful and satisfied with our assistance,” said Goodell. “I don’t want to be na├»ve to say they’re cured because they have medicine now, but it was a rewarding experience seeing them getting blankets, sweaters and things that they didn’t have. I would say they expressed in a language that we can all understand, which were just gestures, that they were definitely grateful.”

The mission ended as the ANA handed out the remainder of the humanitarian assistance supplies and everyone who had desired to be seen by the doctors had explained their ailments in return for a diagnosis and medication.

“Our whole mission was accomplished by introducing the ANA, providing security for them, and delivering needed items to the area,” said Felde.
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Sunday, February 1, 2009

Deployed service members watch the big game

KANDAHAR AIR FIELD, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – Marines with Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force – Afghanistan cheer for their favorite teams while watching the big game Feb. 2, 2009, on Kandahar Air Field, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. (photo by Sgt. Juan D. Alfonso)
KANDAHAR AIR FIELD, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – Marines with Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force – Afghanistan cheer for their favorite teams while watching the big game Feb. 2, 2009, on Kandahar Air Field, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. (photo by Sgt. Juan D. Alfonso)










KANDAHAR AIR FIELD, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – Deployed service members cheer for their favorite teams while watching the big game Feb. 2, 2009, on Kandahar Air Field, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. (photo by Sgt. Juan D. Alfonso)









KANDAHAR AIR FIELD, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – Marines with Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force – Afghanistan cheer for their favorite teams while watching the big game Feb. 2, 2009, on Kandahar Air Field, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. (photo by Sgt. Juan D. Alfonso)
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Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 3 transfers authority to MWHS-2 in Afghanistan

Date written: Feb. 1, 2009
Story by: Sgt. Juan D. Alfonso


KANDAHAR AIR FIELD, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – Lt. Col. Michael E. Watkins, the Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 2 detachment commander, assumed command of Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force – Afghanistan’s air combat element from Lt. Col. Richard T. Ostermeyer, the MWHS-3 detachment commander, Feb. 1, 2009, on Kandahar Air Field, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

The MWHS-3 detachment assumed authority from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s air combat element Nov. 10, 2008.

“All of us had never worked together as a team,” Ostermeyer said. “I have been very impressed with their ability to rapidly overcome those challenges and come together as one cohesive hard-working unit. It says a lot about the Marine Corps’ capabilities and its desire for mission accomplishment.”

Watkins concurred.

“They’ve done a wonderful job,” he said. “They got the mission established and provided maximum support for the SPMAGTF-A Marines. I’m very impressed with the attitude of the Marines and their drive to provide aviation support to the Marines outside the wire. I hope to continue the success Lieutenant Colonel Ostermeyer and his Marines have achieved.”

SPMAGTF-A’s air combat element is a composite squadron with Marines from all three active-duty Marine aircraft wings. The squadron’s fixed wing detachment is Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252, based out of Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C. Its rotary wing detachments include Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 466, based out of MCAS Miramar, Calif., and Marine Light/Attack Helicopter Squadron 269, based out of MCAS New River, N.C. Its logistics squadron, Marine Aerial Logistics Squadron 26, which also assumed responsibility from MALS-16 Feb. 1, is based out of MCAS Cherry Point. MWHS-2 is based out of MCAS Cherry Point. The air combat element is also augmented with Marines from 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, based in Okinawa, Japan.

“It was definitely an honor and a pleasure getting to lead 179 of the finest Marines the Corps has to offer,” Ostermeyer said. “I’m very grateful to 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing for giving me the opportunity to put this [air combat element] together and lead Marines in combat.”