As I prepared for my first embed with in Afghanistan, I figured I might spend some time sleeping under the stars and taking “health and comfort breaks” in the woods as the Marines shut down several of their remaining forward operating bases. I’ve done a bit of tent camping, and I figured I couldn’t be disappointed if I managed my expectations. But, as it turned out, even the final days of FOB life came with quite a few creature comforts. Soon after I arrived in Afghanistan, we moved to FOB Sabit Qadam (formerly FOB Jackson) in the Sangin district of…

Not all working dogs in Afghanistan sniff explosives or walk patrols. Meet Steel. Steel, a three-year-old black Lab, was trained was an Improvised Detection Dog (IDD), skilled at sniffing out explosive devices. But when he arrived at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, his trainers realized that his paws were too soft and sensitive for patrols over rugged, rocky terrain. He would never patrol with his infantry unit, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines. Instead of being sent back to the States, however, Steel was sent over to Camp Leatherneck’s Concussion Restoration Care Center–its consolidated medical facility for sick, injured and wounded troops. Steel…

Look at the two pictures below. One is a controller for your average Playstation 2 machine. One flies the $14 million K-Max drone, which the Marine Corps uses to transport up to 6,000 pounds of gear and equipment at a time. Can  you tell which is which? Give up? The top one flies the K-Max. The bottom one is just a Logitech controller from Walmart. Here’s the drone itself, a rugged 6,000-pound machine based at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan that is one of only two like it in the world. While here on an embed, I paid the program a visit.…

One of the Marine Corps’ biggest advocates in Congress is facing a tough re-election fight, and a former commandant has lent his name to the campaign with hopes it will swing some votes in a district teeming with active-duty Marines and veterans. Voters in eastern North Carolina head to the polls Tuesday to determine whether Republican Rep. Walter Jones survives what’s been a heated primary contest with challenger Taylor Griffin, who worked for the Treasury Department during George W. Bush’s tenure in the White House. The race has generated significant buzz beyond North Carolina thanks to Griffin’s powerful connections, including to former…

By Hope Hodge Seck FOB Sabit Qadam—It’s springtime in Afghanistan, and that means the mercury is already pushing into the triple digits here in Sangin. That didn’t seem to make a difference for Sgt. Sylvester Brooks, who tore through the FOB at top speed on a 45-minute run, wearing a high-altitude mask to make an already sweltering workout more challenging. During a quiet deployment focused on drawdown efforts, the outdoor gym seldom sits idle as Marines bide their time by knocking out endurance workouts and strength training. Marine officials said the gym will remain in place as drawdown efforts continue,…

By Hope Hodge Seck FOB Sabit Qadam—The Sangin district of Helmand province once was known as one of the most combat-intensive regions in Afghanistan. The gains made in the area—pushing the insurgents back and making the region more secure for civilians—proved costly in Marine lives, particularly during 2010 and 2011. Three years later, while the Taliban do still maintain a presence here, it’s now the Afghan National Security Forces who patrol and engage with the enemy, as is the case throughout Helmand province. The Marines still remaining here, a contingent of fewer than 300 from Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 7th…

Marines weren’t going to be outdone by a bunch of moms and their preschoolers singing the hit theme to Disney’s “Frozen.” Theses Marines took to their barracks common area to belt out the lyrics to “Let It Go” with some real passion. And just to Marine-ize the rendition, they somewhat creepily cheer and yell some “Oorahs!” when the animated leading lady, Elsa, has a wardrobe change. [HTML1] The video has more than 116,000 shares since it was posted to Facebook on Tuesday. Their voices don’t quite reach Idina Menzel’s range, but they sang with enthusiasm. Whatever motivates you, Marines.

By Hope Hodge Seck Camp Leatherneck–Greetings from Camp Leatherneck, a once-bustling base in Afghanistan’s Helmand province that is rapidly becoming a ghost town. Leatherneck is home to most of the 4,500 Marines remaining in Afghanistan, down from some 20,000 at the peak of fighting here. While the base still has a sprawling footprint, whole sections are emptying as units and elements complete their mission and go home. Meanwhile, Leatherneck is still home to an array of coalition troops, including Jordanian, Georgian, Estonian, and Danish forces, as well as some 2,500 British troops stationed at Camp Bastion, which borders Leatherneck. On…

Mary Cochrane enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1944 to “free a man to fight” in World War II by serving as a truck driver. On April 18 she celebrated her 100th birthday–made sweeter with a cake brought to her home by a detachment of reserve Marines, and a letter of congratulation from Marine commandant Gen. Jim Amos. The Marines, an inspector-instructor detachment from Peru, Indiana, spent time discussing Marine Corps memories with Cochrane and reviewing photos from her time as a young Marine. “I had never seen a Marine, by the way,” Cochrane said of arriving in San…

On the cover this week, I dig into a complex problem: The Afghan and Iraqi interpreters who risked their lives alongside U.S. Marines and now fear for their lives as they wait for approval for special immigrant visas, a State Department process that can take years. Many of the interpreters I spoke with asked that we blur their faces and disguise their names, because their work with U.S. troops makes them a target for insurgents. Over the course of this story, I received emails from over 50 interpreters pleading for help in speeding up this process, and describing threats to…

1 4 5 6 7 8 112
css.php