After arriving in Afghanistan, the other combat replacements and I were distributed across 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines Area of Operations to units that required the reinforcements. I was assigned to a platoon in Baqwa, Afghanistan. Once there, the Platoon Commander and Platoon Sergeant had determined it best “to avoid conflict” and for other reasons to position the Sergeants as “Squad Advisors” as opposed to placing us as the new Squad Leaders of the squad we were assigned to.
I still took charge of the squad, and using my prior Afghanistan experience, started working with the squad to determine how they operated, providing ideas on how to change some of their Standard Operating Procedures, and found my way into being a part of the Squad. We conducted a wide variety of simple Vehicle Mounted Patrols, conducting humanitarian operations mostly, assisting the locals with building wells for their farms.
After a while of conducting these operations, I suggested the conduct of a 3 day patrol base operation about 20 kilometers away from the Forward Operating Base (FOB) in order to collect information on enemy operations in the area, and to collect what intel I could on trying to find the two IED makers that were operating in our area. After successfully collecting information on enemy operations, and after some brief contact with the enemy, we returned.
Many of the operations during this time seemed fruitless, and a rather strange cumulation of conflict began to emerge within the platoon. At this point, a unit of Afghan National Police was sent out to the FOB for the Marines to train. I volunteered to take on this task, and brought with me two other Marines to assist in their training.
In coordination with a Civilian Contractor assigned to the Afghan National Police (ANP) unit, I once again gained more experience in Project Management in developing a robust training schedule for the small unit of ANP. I was able to successfully train over 30 of these Afghan officers in weapons handling, marksmanship, infantry tactics, techniques, and procedures oriented toward policing operations, and more.
After about 3 weeks of training this unit, these men were ready for conducting operations. I lead several patrols with the Police chief, operating mostly independent from the Marine Corps platoon. I had to coordinate all of the supplies and logistics for our operations, keep the USMC platoon abreast of our situation, making regular reports on the status of their training. This was a tremendous assignment that I was given near complete freedom to conduct on my own, and I managed the project successfully, resulting in the ANP unit having the ability to operate freely and on their own.
During this assignment, I again gained additional experience in Project Management and Operations Management. Professional skills I gained at this point included:
- Project Planning and Development.
- Curriculum development
- Training Development and Management
- Organizational structuring and assignment of duties.
- Risk Management and implementation of mitigation strategies.
- Coordination of Multinational departments in the conduct of operations.
- Working with interpreters to maintain solid Communication.
- Master Scheduling.
- Supplies and Logistics management with foreign entities.
- Maintaining accountability of military Weapons, Equipment, and Gear totaling over $1 million, or more when assigned vehicles, closer to over $10 million or more at any given time.
- Inventory management.
- Facility Layout and Management.
- Coordination between Multinational units in the conduct of partnered operations.
- Developing reporting and monitoring methodologies
- Developing Standard Operating Procedures and Policies for a Foreign Police Force.
- Administrative Management of Personnel.
- Inventory Management
- Information and Intelligence gathering.
- Conflict Management.
This project was a success, and after conducting a solid transfer of responsibilities over with the unit that replaced us, we all returned home around the end of November of 2008.