Browsing: Infantry

Today, Marine Corps Times published online my story outlining the heroism of Cpl. Dakota Meyer, a rifleman and scout sniper who found himself in the middle of horrific ambush in eastern Afghanistan last year that ultimately claimed the life of five U.S. troops. To get that story, I relied heavily on more than 300 pages of sworn witness statements and other documents compiled by Combined Joint Task Force 82, which conducted the investigation in Afghanistan in the days following the Sept. 8, 2009, attack in Ganjgal, a remote village in Kunar province. Even though the documents were already redacted when I…

In a story published this morning, The New York Times treads over a lot of well-worn ground while examining Gen. James Mattis’ past and considering how he’ll fit in as the new commander of U.S. Central Command. Most of it will come as no surprise to Marine Corps watchers. Mattis is known for his “impolitic” remarks, the Times reports, and is “a warrior who chooses to lead from the front lines and speaks bluntly rather than concerning himself with political correctness.” Shocker, I know. The story does contain one great anecdote, though. Nathaniel Fick, a former Marine captain whose profile…

It’s every Marine’s worst nightmare. Your buddies are pinned down in a kill zone, taking fire from three sides. No help is on the way, and every time you try to assist them, you get turned back by the massive amount of firepower unleashed by the enemy. Cpl. Dakota Meyer found himself in this very situation Sept. 8, 2009. Caught in a battle in Ganjgal, a remote village in eastern Afghanistan, he took matter into his own hands, braving a hail of enemy fire on foot to reach his buddies. Sadly, they were dead when he found them. The battle,…

It’s been about 24 hours since the Pentagon announced that Gen. James Mattis has been nominated to take over U.S. Central Command, and it has been met within the Marine Corps with the reaction most military observers expected. In short, the typical Marine response: “Su-weet!” There’s many reasons for that. Mattis, commander of the initial Marine invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, obviously has a track record as an innovative military thinker, but he’s also a leader who goes the extra mile for Marines in hostile environments. An example: Far removed from day-to-day Marine operations, Mattis advocated behind the scenes for more…

 After months of fighting, the two infantry battalions saddled with the majority of responsibility in the former Taliban stronghold of Marjah, Afghanistan, may soon get a break. As we covered in a long-form story laying out the Marine Corps’ summer plan in Afghanistan, regularly scheduled unit rotations dictate that 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, and 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, both out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., will be replaced in Marjah this summer. Marines on the ground in Marjah say they’re working under the assumption that Lejeune’s 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines, will replace 1/6 in central and southern Marjah, while Lejeune’s 2nd Battalion, 9th…

As moments in Afghanistan went, they were some of the eeriest ones I experienced. On May 10 and 11, I went out on back-to-back evening patrols with members of India Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines from Combat Outpost Yazzie in northwest Marjah. The material gathered those nights formed a large part of the basis for this magazine story in Marine Corps Times, showing the dangers Marine faces in the former Taliban stronghold, where ambushes with sniper rifles and 7.62mm machine guns are common. With the sun setting on the horizon, the Marines climbed to a ridge overlooking Marjah from the west…

Rep. Walter Jones is back at it. The Republican congressman with Camp Lejeune, N.C., in his backyard has again picked up the drumbeat calling for a congressional review of the rules of engagement used by the U.S. military in Afghanistan. In a letter released Friday, Jones again asked House Armed Services Committee Ike Skelton, D.-Mo., and ranking member Howard “Buck” McKeon, R.-Calif., to hold a “classified hearing” in which military leadership explains the rules under which rank-and-file troops conduct operations outside the wire. The letter is also signed by Reps. Jeff Miller, R.-Fla., and Doug Lamborn, R.-Colo. “As you are…

Marines with 1st Battalion, 24th Marines will head back to their Selfridge, Mich., headquarters Saturday after working their seats off for two weeks in Javeline Thrust 2010. More than 4,500 Marines from air, ground and logistics units participated in the exercise, the largest Marine Forces Reserve exercise of the year. It took place between the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, Calif., and the Hawathorn Weapons Army Depot in Hawthorn, Nev. The terrain, with elevations ranging from 4,000 to 10,000 feet over a 180-square-mile area, simulated conditions in Afghanistan, minus actual Taliban fighters.

SPRINGFIELD, Va. — The journey is over. After six weeks in Afghanistan, three of which came in some of the most violent sections of Marjah, I’m back in the office at Military Times headquarters. The main focus today for me is pitching in on an in-depth print story about Gen. James Amos likely becoming the next commandant of the Marine Corps, while combing through notes and anecdotes collected in Afghanistan that I haven’t yet reported. Wearing a shirt and tie for the first time in nearly two months, I’m still struggling to put my trip in perspective, but I’m grateful…

KABUL, Afghanistan — The slower pace of things here in the last few days have given me a chance to reflect on some of the more unexpected things that I’ve seen in the last six weeks while reporting from the southern half of this country. One of those things is just how prevalent animals are — and how differently they are treated than in the U.S. Marines on patrol regularly pass sheep, goats and cattle grazing through the area. When we were in Marjah with 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, several things caught me off-guard. Some were sad, while others were…

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