Browsing: Infantry

CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan – Good evening, friends. We’re still aboard this forward operating base, conducting interviews for several stories in forthcoming issues of Marine Corps Times. In the meantime, I wanted to share a meeting I had today with the top brass in 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, out of Twentynine Palms, Calif. The unit is on its way back to the U.S. following a grueling seven-month deployment in volatile northern Helmand province. Its Marines were based primarily in Sangin at first, and then gradually spread through Kajaki, Musa Qala and Now Zad districts as the drawdown in forces across Afghanistan…

CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan – The more things change, the more they stay the same. That holds true on this vast forward operating base, which photographer Colin Kelly and I arrived at this afternoon. It still serves as the main hub of Marine operations in Afghanistan, even after thousands of Marines were withdrawn from Helmand province this summer. We flew here on a British C-130, spending more than an hour in the air from Kabul International Airport. The flight included about 30 British troops and a handful of Estonians, among others. After spending all of April and part of May embedded…

It’s that time again: Marine Corps Times is heading back to the Sandbox. In coming days, I’ll be embedding with Marine forces in Afghanistan with Colin Kelly, a senior videographer and photographer on staff. It’ll mark the third trip for each of us to Afghanistan, and my second in Helmand province this year. It’s a key time to visit the war zone for several reasons, as pointed out in this new story I put together after interviewing several deployed general officers. In recent days, the U.S. has completed its drawdown to about 68,000 troops across Afghanistan, ending a two-plus year…

More than 1,000 Marines with 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, have returned from Afghanistan to Camp Pendleton, Calif., since Friday, the culmination of their seven-month deployment in northern Helmand province. As this Marine Corps news release points out, the unit was based primarily in Musa Qala and Now Zad districts, teaming with other units as part of Regimental Combat Team 6. Other infantry units in that RCT this summer included 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., and 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, out of Twentynine Palms, Calif., both of which photographer James J. Lee and I visited this spring…

The Marines of 1st Battalion, 4th Marines,  welcomed a new boss in Maj. Christopher J. Bronzi during a Sept. 6 ceremony at Camp Pendleton’s Camp Horno. Bronzi, 39, of Poughquag, N.Y., deployed to Afghanistan and served as operations officer with 1st Marine Regiment and Regimental Combat Team 1. A 1996 U.S. Naval Academy graduate, he received the Silver Star for his actions leading his men in battle over two days of heavy fighting in Iraq’s volatile Sunni Triangle in April 2004. Bronzi, then a captain, was commanding Golf Company, 2/4, through the intense deadly battles with insurgents April 6-7 in…

Lt. Gen. John Kelly will soon become the new four-star commander at U.S. Southern Command, a post that will require him to oversee the fight against drug trafficking, natural disasters, humanitarian crises and cyber warfare in central and South America. As the Long War Journal points out, Kelly delivered a powerful 30-minute speech on Tuesday to the American Legion National Convention in Indianapolis. He addresses the extremist nature of the threat the U.S. faces from terrorists and how difficult it is for a family to deal with the loss of a loved one in a war zone — something he…

The next major phase of the drawdown of Marine forces in Afghanistan is nearly complete. Thousands of Marines have returned from Helmand province in the last few weeks, leaving behind a smaller force that is focused primarily on partnered security force assistance with Afghan National Security Forces, rather than offensive operations. Marine officials declined to say how many Marines remain, but have acknowledged previously that there could be as few as 7,000 by October. The overall number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan this fall is expected to drop to 68,000, the approximate same number as when President Obama ordered a…

Commandant Gen. Jim Amos met with reporters today at the Pentagon, leading me to ask him about the reports this week that his assistant commandant, Gen. Joseph Dunford, is the frontrunner to become the next commander of the war in Afghanistan. It’s one of those classically awkward situations where journalists feel required to ask a question, knowing it’s unlikely a full answer can be provided. Asked what he would do to replace Dunford, Amos called him “one of the finest officers who have ever worn this cloth,” but declined to go much farther. “He’s been a teammate of mine since…

Could another Marine soon be leading the war in Afghanistan? A report in The Wall Street Journal this morning suggests that the frontrunner to replace Gen. John Allen as the next head of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan is none other than Gen. Joseph Dunford, the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta reportedly recommended him to the White House for the job. From the story: Defense officials said Gen. Dunford is a firm supporter of the Afghan war strategy of Mr. Obama, who has called for continued drawdowns of U.S. forces through the end…

Virtually everyone has heard of Flat Stanley, the children’s book favorite who has been photographed all over the world. He’s the star of the Flat Stanley Project, which was launched to teach children how to write letters to each other while they learn about geography. Marines and soldiers who served in Marjah, Afghanistan, have their own version of sorts of Flat Stanley, I’ve learned. Key difference: instead of the lovable children’s favorite, they went with Stan Marsh, the foul-mouthed South Park character. Consider the following: Or this: Or this: These photographs come to me by way of the troops who served…

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