News: Recently-returned Embedded Training Team 2-5 members look back on Afghanistan mission
Story by Lance Cpl. Kevin Knallay
By Lance Cpl. Kevin Knallay
3rd Marine Expeditionary Force Public Affairs
CAMP SCHWAB, OKINAWA, Japan – Marines with Embedded Training Team 2-5 returned from a deployment to Afghanistan, March 7, after spending nine months in the country serving as mentors and advisors to the Afghan national army and Afghan police forces.
The team was comprised of 22 Marines and Sailors from various 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force units.
Lt. Col. Christopher Nash, the ETT 2-5 officer in charge, said he and his team members returned with a great sense of accomplishment.
"There is no way you can do an ETT tour and not recognize the impact you've made in the fight we're in," Nash said. "Everyone will remember the difference they made forever."
The Marines with ETT 2-5 advised, mentored and fought alongside Afghanis from the 1st Afghan border police brigade and 1st Kandak, 2nd Brigade, 201st Afghan national army corps.
"We try to be with (the Afghan service members) 24 hours a day," Nash said. "When they go out on a mission, you go out on a mission. They are training; you are training. If they are resting, you are resting."
The Marines spent roughly the first half of the deployment attached to the 1st Afghan border police brigade.
"When we arrived, there were about 850 soldiers in the ABP to cover 890 kilometers of border," said Nash.
The ETT helped consolidate the ABP's number of observation posts as well as ensure they were properly armed to defend Afghanistan's borders.
"They only had 13 machine guns and 36 (rocket propelled grenades) for their posts," Nash said. "And because they didn't have the firepower to stand their ground against the Taliban or al-Qaida operatives, they would just fire a few rounds and run."
It wasn't long before an improvement in the ABP was visible, he said.
"While we were there, there was a (huge) increase in crew served weapons," he said. The increase gave them more confidence. "We saw a dramatic improvement when they started to stand and fight."
After their time with the ABP, ETT 2-5 attached to the newly-formed unit, 1st Kandak, according to Nash.
"It was a great opportunity to see Marine (noncommissioned officers) in action," said Gunnery Sgt. William Augurson, a team company advisor. "We say NCOs are the backbone in the Marines, and in Afghanistan I had a full opportunity to see that. We had corporals mentoring company commanders and company first sergeants with the ANA and doing an excellent job at it."
Several team members said when they were fighting beside and interacting with the Afghan service members they formed bonds just as strong as those bonds between Marines.
"I'm always going to remember the names and faces of those I worked side-by-side with," said Sgt. Rafael Rivaschacon, a team company advisor. "They were my family away from family. It was truly just a wonderful experience."
E-4s and above from 3rd MEF units can volunteer for service with an ETT through their chain of command, according to Nash. The next ETT work-up is scheduled for September.
"If there are Marines out there who want a challenge in many different areas, I would strongly encourage them to try and get with an ETT," he said. "Not only will they grow as Marines, they will have an incredible impact in areas where we are fighting the enemy, and they will do things that they wouldn't typically do in a Marine unit."
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