After returning back to Camp Pendleton, CA from this deployment, 2/4 was put on 30 days of leave. During this time, the command element put out a message to those Marines who were still in the area to see who would be willing to deploy again to reinforce 2nd Battalion 7th Marines who were is Afghanistan at the time. Several Marines and myself volunteered to come off leave early to do a quick training regimen to be “certified” to deploy to Afghanistan. There were over 100 Marines from various units across the west coast who came together to form a detachment to deploy, and we left either August or September of 2008 to go to Afghanistan.
About 8 or 9 of us got attached to a platoon out in Baqwa, Afghanistan. I do not remember the platoon, but they were a part of Golf Company, and were operating as a platoon reinforced out of a small Forward Operating Base (FOB) in the area. Myself and a couple of other Sergeant were thought to become replacement squad leaders, however the Platoon Commander and Platoon Sergeant thought it best to make us “Platoon Advisors.” I was attached to one of the squads and we began conducting regular day to day operations.
After conducting several vehicle borne patrols working with local village elders, passing out funds to help them dig wells for their farm lands, very little was being done to engage the enemy. This was due to a wide variety of factors, mostly due to the loss of several Marines in combat engagements and IED’s that the Battalion experienced already. I was able to write up and order and conduct a 3 day patrol operation with my squad. During this particular operation were engaged by the enemy briefly. We had managed to collect a significant amount of information regarding what the Taliban elements were doing in the area and I was able to pass this information on to the “intel guy” that we had on the FOB.
After conducting several more operations, we had a small platoon of Afghan National Police officers attached to the platoon. I volunteered to take control of their training due to my experience working with the ANP during my first deployment, and my experience training foreign militaries from the previous deployment. I had a fellow Sergeant and a Lance Corporal attached to assist me in their training. Again, I developed a training package, this time training the ANP utilizing their weapons, teaching them Infantry Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures, adjusted to meet the needs of the small Police detachment. During this time I gained experience in the following:
- Coordinating supplies and logistics along with my DynCorp consultant to supply, arm, and support the Police unit.
- Administration of the unit, developing their Standard Operating Procedures, and maintaining records of all of the personnel, training their chief in the Administration of his staff and officers.
- Developing a 3 week training program that taught these Police Officers how to use their weapons, (various Russian and Austrian firearms including RPK’s, PKM’s, and AK variants) and how to operate as a unit.
- Conducting training in how to cordon and search a village, clearing houses, handling detainees, collecting information, working with village elders, and building partnerships with the local people.
- Coordinating operations with the Marine Corps Platoon, operating on my own with the ANP and building their skills in the field in real operations.
- Developing unique techniques utilizing their Vehicles for securing villages after hostile engagements with the Taliban.
- Building a strong and trusting relationship with the ANP, their Chief, and the local community.
I greatly enjoyed this experience. I was able to build up a platoon of Afghan National police, not only teaching them how to operate, but also building them up as leaders in their communities. I placed a heavy focus during their training on being mentors to the young men of their communities, teaching them their role as protectors of their people, putting an emphasis on being humble and acting with with good courage.
After completing their training, and conducting a proper turnover with the unit relieving 2/7, we then packed up and made our way home around the end of November 2008.