Marine patrol in Afghanistan gets its feet wet


Marines return from a patrol to a local Afghan Border Police checkpoint on Monday in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. The border police work mostly out of Khanashin district in Helmand, monitoring insurgent activity and drug running. (Colin Kelly / Staff)

TAGHAZ, Afghanistan – Sometimes, you have to get a little muddy in life.

That’s a good lesson learned in Afghanistan, at least. It came up today while on foot patrol in this area with members of Marine Border Adviser Team 1, as they pushed on foot from their outpost in southern Helmand province to a nearby tactical checkpoint that members of the Afghan Border Police call home.

It wasn’t a long patrol, to be certain. We hiked perhaps a mile from Combat Outpost Taghaz in Khanashin district to the checkpoint, maneuvering past camels, sheep, scraggly bushes -– and through a stream perhaps 100 feet wide and two feet deep.

With the temperature in the 80s, it wasn’t cold or miserable. It certainly adds an interesting element to the movement, however.

As one corpsman put it as I climbed out of the streambed: “I love this sh–.” He couldn’t have meant it more.

The patrol was led by 1st Lt. John Behrmann, an intelligence officer who leads one of BAT-1’s teams. He sat with the noncommissioned officer overseeing the ABP at the checkpoint, Staff Sgt. Abdul Satar, and caught up on what his element has been up to the last few days.

U.S. troops sometimes gripe about their Afghan counterparts, but the Marines respect and appreciate Satar. Behrmann said it’s believed he has been involved in combat operations in the Khanashin region since at least 2009, when Marine forces assaulted the region as part of Operation Khanjar, or Strike the Sword.

“He’s a hard worker,” Behrmann said.

Like several other locations we’ve visited this week, the ABP are on their own at the checkpoint after Marines pulled back into larger bases this summer. It’s part of the push to have Afghan National Security Forces in the lead providing security in their own country. Third Battalion, 8th Marines, out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., also is in the neighborhood, providing additional security and logistical help.

Sgt. Anthony Santiago, a member of BAT-1, said the ABP have improved significantly since the Marines pulled back into a security force assistance role.

“A lot of times they say ‘If you want to come with us it’s OK, but we don’t need you there,” he said. “They’re brave.”

Marines push through a stream in Afghanistan’s Khanashin district on the way to visit Afghan Border Police at a tactical checkpoint. (Dan Lamothe/Staff)


About Author

I'm a senior writer with Marine Corps Times, covering ground warfare, manpower, weapons acquisition and other beats. I embedded in Afghanistan in spring 2010, and plan to return at least once in 2011.


  1. Any sign of Doc Davis? He’s supposed to be with 3/8 weapons. It would be great if you could get a picture of him. His family from Texas misses him. He’s the ugly one. You can’t miss him. Thanks for all your great reporting!!!

  2. FINALLY!!!!!!!!!!!! THANK you!!!!!!!!!!!! My son is in that group of guys and I’m SOOOOOOOOO glad to finally get to read something on them!!!

  3. Does anyone know who the Marine is leading the patrol in the second picture of this article? I had the privilege of sitting next to him on his delta flight from Baltimore to salt lake as he was going home from this mission and didn’t get his name. I know he is based at 29 palms. I would like to get in touch with him, he seemed like a wonderful young man.


  4. Hey john!
    I was just showing my buddies in 29 palms the article and read your response. Im still here in 29 palms actually in the field for a couple days. Heres my email feel free to stay in touch and thanks for the info on the Ipad lol

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