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    What is Task Force Belleau Wood

    Watch caps and MRAPs: Supply provides all for Task Force Belleau Wood

    Photo By Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan David Chandler | Marines with Task Force Belleau Wood’s supply section (from left): Cpl. Joel Lewis,...... read more read more



    Story by Cpl. Timothy Solano 

    Regional Command Southwest

    CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan – Maintaining an area of operations comparable to the size of New York City and neighboring boroughs is a full time job for the service members of Task Force Belleau Wood, who have held down Camp Leatherneck and its surrounding area since the unit arrived in early 2011.

    Comprised of approximately 3400 Marines, as well as a myriad of NATO International Security Assistance Force personnel, Task Force Belleau Wood works around the clock in not only maintaining Leatherneck and its surroundings, but also in supporting most other units operating in Helmand province.

    “I think our primary role has been in providing enablers to other units,” said Col. Michael Sweeney, commanding officer of Task Force Belleau Wood. “In providing things like communications detachments, military working dog teams, (signals intelligence) detachments, and human exploitation teams, we have been critical to those infantry battalions out on the ground.”

    With many of the unit’s service members assigned to supporting units in areas through the province, ensuring the security and development of the greater Camp Leatherneck area keeps the unit busy as well. This part of the Belleau Wood mission set includes COIN (counterinsurgency) operations and improving communication and understanding among Belleau Wood and Afghan leaders through key leader engagements.

    The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime released in their “2011 Afghan Opium Survey” that opium poppy-crop cultivation in Afghanistan reached about 323,570 acres this year, a seven percent increase in production since 2010.

    To combat poppy cultivation, Task Force Belleau Wood has been working with Afghan leaders so that they can create incentives for local farmers to grow things other than illicit crops, Sweeney said.
    “At the end of the day, the average farmer in our area is just trying to make a living,” he added. “He’s doing nothing different than you or I would do – just trying to provide for his family.”

    "Complacency kills.” This statement, posted along every perimeter and in many intermittent locations aboard Camp Leatherneck, serves to remind Task Force Belleau Wood of a secondary mission, which incorporates the internal safety of the installation.

    For one battalion in particular, the safety and well-being of Leatherneck residents is a mission not taken lightly. Come day, night, heat and cold, the Marines of 1st Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment patrol the base and the outlying desert perimeter to maintain security of the installation.

    “We have Marines on the perimeter 24 hours a day, manning the towers and entry points,” said Lt. Col Brian O’Leary, commanding officer of 1/25.

    “We maintain a constant presence in the battle space, engaging in full-spectrum COIN operations designed to provide (International Security Assistance Force) freedom of movement and deter any threats against the camp.”

    Constant presence is implemented by the Marines who stand post and watch for suspicious activity as well as acting as first responders to enemy threats.

    “Just the fact that we are able to maintain the thousands of people who move in and out of here each day and ensure that everyone has a place to sleep may not be the most glamorous duty, but it’s certainly important,” Sweeney said.

    "When we go home and we reflect on what we have accomplished out here, we can take pride in the fact that we have supported everybody who has needed support, made life better for the Afghans and kept everyone aboard Camp Leatherneck safe.”

    This is the first installment of a three-part series highlighting the mission of Task Force Belleau Wood and the service members that fall under it's command.



    Date Taken: 12.23.2011
    Date Posted: 12.23.2011 06:43
    Story ID: 81718

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