3/2 Marines replace 1/8 in Musa Qala, Now Zad


Sgt. Jim Shevlin, a civil affairs Marine with 4th Civil Affairs Group, posts security while other civil affairs Marines interact with the populous of Now Zad, Afghanistan, last month. 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines, has taken over for 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, as the primary unit in the area. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Clayton Vonderahe)

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.


About Author

I'm a senior writer with Marine Corps Times, covering ground warfare, manpower, weapons acquisition and other beats. I embedded in Afghanistan in spring 2010, and plan to return at least once in 2011.


  1. We, the family members, were upset about BASETRACK being pulled mostly because it was our only regular link to our Marines. Beyond that, the USMC never gave a plausible rationale for pulling the project. Lot’s of “hearsay” and speculation – but those were all discounted by the USMC themselves. Still no explanation other than it was “too effective.”

  2. The Marine Corps’ priorities are mission accomplishment and troop welfare. Anything that has the potential of hindering the mission or affecting the warfighter’s mindset, in a time when it’s most important, will inevitably be scrutinized in some capacity. We’re grateful for the connectivity we enjoy today- a luxury our big brothers in the Chosin Reservoir did not- but if it becomes a detriment to the focus on the mission and self-preservation, then it is expendable.

  3. Diane Blackford on

    I agree with Mickey 100%….my son is in the 3/2 that has replaced the 1/8 and if there is information that is published that will be a detriment to his safety…then I am all for it being pulled. His Fiance and I go weeks without hearing from him, that that is alright. I want my son to come home safe…and we all know that anything that is published is not just read by “Americans”. Semper Fi!

  4. 1/8 Marine Wife on

    Actually, it upset the maybe 10 family members who followed Basetrack. The majority of unit family members didn’t know it existed or abhorred it because of the constant negativity, OPSEC violations, and anti-war/anti-military postings. I’m pretty disappointed that the Marine Corps Times would use Basetrack as a source, especially when it was pointed out in this post that the unit kicked them out.

  5. Pingback: Battle Rattle - A Marine Corps Times Blog – 3/7 and 2/4 Marines prepare for Afghanistan deployment

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