News: RCT-7 takes over counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan
Story by Staff Sgt. Luis Agostini
HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan — Regimental Combat Team 7 took over counterinsurgency operations throughout southern Afghanistan from Regimental Combat Team 3 during a ceremony here, Oct. 24.
RCT-7, comprised of three infantry battalions and one artillery battalion, will build upon the foundation set by RCT-3, which included July's Operation Khanjar, the most significant Marine Corps operation since the battle of Fallujah in 2004, and the largest helicopter insertion since the Vietnam War.
"You can be proud of what you've accomplished in the Helmand River province," said Brig. Gen. Larry D. Nicholson, commanding general of Marine Expeditionary Brigade-Afghanistan. "As they write about this in the future, the Special MAGTF (Marine Air-Ground Task Force) and RCT-3 will be prominently featured."
After casing his unit's battle colors, signaling the end of RCT-3's mission in Afghanistan, Col. Duffy W. White, commanding officer, RCT-3, addressed the accomplishments of his Marines during their time in Afghanistan.
"RCT-3 and the MEB demonstrated the flexibility of today's Corps," said White, referring to the fact that elements from all three Marine Expeditionary Forces were pulled to comprise RCT-3. "The fact that we can come together overnight is a testament to the warfighting prowess of this organization. RCT-3 fought hard to protect the Afghan people, and we partnered with Afghan security forces, and it was done by using muscular strength and application of force."
While detailing the bravery and tenacity of his Marines, he also touched on the strides made in developing relationships with the Afghan population, a key component to a counterinsurgency victory.
"We've begun to earn the trust of the Afghans, which is the first step to victory," White said.
"We've asked a lot from our Marines, and they've exceeded my expectations at every turn," said White.
White would not finish without reminding the Marines and sailors in attendance of the sacrifices made by those who came before them.
"We will carry the memory of our fallen brothers who paid the ultimate sacrifice forever," White said.
Col. Randall P. Newman, the commanding officer of RCT-7, briefly commented on the ground gained in Afghanistan by RCT-3, and delivered an optimistic outlook for the following year.
"It's a great honor to come out here and work in Afghanistan," said Newman, who looks forward to partnering with Afghan national security forces, in an effort to assist the Government of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan with the establishment of their government.
Newman also joked on the aesthetic similarities between the forward operating base which the RCT-7 headquarters is located, and the U.S. home of the 7th Marine Regiment, Marine Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif.
"The Marines probably were thinking they were going to Camp Wilson," Newman said.
Regimental Combat Team 7 is comprised of the following units: 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Marine Corps Base Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii; 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C.; 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, Marine Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif.; 3rd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C.; 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif.; 3rd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., and 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C.