Last weekend, I pointed out in a lengthy story posted here that there would be a fair amount of transition for Marine units in Afghanistan in coming weeks.
One piece of that transition that already occurred is the swap from 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, to 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines, in Musa Qala, Now Zad and other pieces of northern Helmand province. Both Camp Lejeune, N.C.-based units were in Afghanistan until recently, but 1/8 has been returning in waves to Lejeune all week, according to Basetrack, the social media project that covered most of 1/8’s deployment.
Musa Qala and Now Zad are both safer than they were a few years ago, when Marines nicknamed the latter district “Apocalypse Now Zad.” The Marine Corps wrestled control of the area back from the Taliban in summer 2009 during Operation Khanjar, and it has slowly progressed since.
That’s not to say that that work is complete, though. One example: The Associated Press reported this month that an airstrike was called in Musa Qala on March 4, killing 11 insurgents, including a leader of insurgent forces in Sangin.
The 1/8 deployment was notable not only for the work the Marines did, but for the Basetrack project that covered it. As Danger Room outlined in a post earlier this month, Marine officials eventually pulled the plug on it, upsetting many family members.