Two years ago, this blog was launched as I headed downrange to cover Marine operations in Afghanistan’s Helmand province. It’s about time I got back to it.
Beginning next week, Marine Corps Times photographer James Lee and I will be embedding with several battalions in northern Helmand. We’ll transit through the Corps’ main hub of operations in the country, Camp Leatherneck, with plans to spend time in Sangin and Kajaki districts.
I’m not bringing this up beforehand for bragging rights. No, I thought the best way to do this was to start a conversation early, as any good blog should. We’ll be living, eating and patrolling with Marines, and — to the extent possible — sharing here what life is like for them.
A few details still need to be worked out, but we expect to visit the following units:
— 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, out of Twentynine Palms, Calif.
— 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, out of Camp Lejeune, N.C.
— 2nd Battalion, 11th Marines, out of Camp Pendleton, Calif.
Longtime Battle Rattle readers may remember that my initial foray into combat zone coverage involved 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, which was then based in Helmand’s Marjah district. Life there has improved considerably, but it was an extremely violent place at the time, and we saw that firsthand. I’m hoping to duplicate the blogging from that assignment.
My colleague Lee hasn’t been to Afghanistan before, but he’s a war-zone veteran. He made three trips to Iraq to cover Army operations between 2005 and 2007, and also covered tsunami relief efforts in the Pacific in 2004.
For those who use Twitter, I’ll also be filing updates there. My handle is @DanLamothe.