The Marines of 1st Reconnaissance Battalion are expected to return this week from Afghanistan to Camp Pendleton, Calif., after a seven-month deployment. They were replaced during a relief in place ceremony at Camp Leatherneck last week with 2nd Recon, out of Camp Lejeune, N.C.
First Recon deployed in the spring, and was quickly dispatched to areas surrounding the former Taliban stronghold of Marjah. They eventually also played a role in Sangin, where Marines have faced a tough fight in the last few months.
At the time, Marjah district was likely the most dangerous place in Helmand province for Marines, and 1st Recon was called on by Marine commanders to take on the Taliban in the countryside surrounding Marjah. They eventually played a large role in security operations in Trek Nawa, to the east of Marjah. Remarkably, they did not lose a single Marine.
Lt. Col. Mike Mooney, 1st Recon’s commander, and some of his Marines weighed in on the deployment last week, telling a combat correspondent that the Taliban tagged them with a new nickname: “Black Diamonds.”
Nothing proves this more than the nickname the Recon Marines received from Taliban fighters — “Black Diamonds”. The name comes from the mount worn on the Recon Marines’ helmets that is in the shape of a diamond. For the Taliban, the Black Diamonds became a force they would avoid at all cost.
“We first heard it over the radio in Trek Nawa,” said Cpl. Micah Fulmer, a reconnaissance Marine with 1st Recon Bn. “It followed us to Sangin and they said, ‘Don’t mess with the ‘Black Diamonds.’”
The Marines of 2nd Recon will continue the same mission, with the same message to the Taliban.
“The enemy is going to know and fear 2nd Recon too. They are not going to know what hit them,” Mooney said. “They are going to know the ‘Black Diamonds’ are in their backyard and it is going to be hell on earth for them.”
It sounds to me like the unit is working to build up that recon mystique. But, what’s wrong with that?