TAGHAZ, Afghanistan – Sometimes, you have to get a little muddy in life.
That’s a good lesson learned in Afghanistan, at least. It came up today while on foot patrol in this area with members of Marine Border Adviser Team 1, as they pushed on foot from their outpost in southern Helmand province to a nearby tactical checkpoint that members of the Afghan Border Police call home.
It wasn’t a long patrol, to be certain. We hiked perhaps a mile from Combat Outpost Taghaz in Khanashin district to the checkpoint, maneuvering past camels, sheep, scraggly bushes -– and through a stream perhaps 100 feet wide and two feet deep.
With the temperature in the 80s, it wasn’t cold or miserable. It certainly adds an interesting element to the movement, however.
As one corpsman put it as I climbed out of the streambed: “I love this sh–.” He couldn’t have meant it more.
The patrol was led by 1st Lt. John Behrmann, an intelligence officer who leads one of BAT-1’s teams. He sat with the noncommissioned officer overseeing the ABP at the checkpoint, Staff Sgt. Abdul Satar, and caught up on what his element has been up to the last few days.
U.S. troops sometimes gripe about their Afghan counterparts, but the Marines respect and appreciate Satar. Behrmann said it’s believed he has been involved in combat operations in the Khanashin region since at least 2009, when Marine forces assaulted the region as part of Operation Khanjar, or Strike the Sword.
“He’s a hard worker,” Behrmann said.
Like several other locations we’ve visited this week, the ABP are on their own at the checkpoint after Marines pulled back into larger bases this summer. It’s part of the push to have Afghan National Security Forces in the lead providing security in their own country. Third Battalion, 8th Marines, out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., also is in the neighborhood, providing additional security and logistical help.
Sgt. Anthony Santiago, a member of BAT-1, said the ABP have improved significantly since the Marines pulled back into a security force assistance role.
“A lot of times they say ‘If you want to come with us it’s OK, but we don’t need you there,” he said. “They’re brave.”