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    Pendleton Marines prepare to transfer patrol base to Afghans



    Story by Cpl. Kenneth Jasik 

    Regimental Combat Team 6

    PATROL BASE HABIB, Afghanistan – Marines with Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, are leaving the place they’ve called home for the past two months to head to Camp Leatherneck, the main base of operations for Marines in Helmand province.

    Afghan National Security Forces will be taking on the security role for the area. The Marines, who’ve spent the past two months advising and training the ANSF, say the Afghans are ready to handle the mission on their own.

    For about two years, different Marine units have been at Patrol Base Habib, which is just north of Musa Qa’leh District Center, and have built a strong relationship with the locals and Afghan National Army.

    “In this general area, the people definitely don’t want us to leave,” said Staff Sgt. Justin M. Rettenberger, platoon sergeant, 1st Platoon, Golf Co. “They are happy to have the support of the ANA and (Afghan National Police), and they’re going to protect them from the Taliban.”

    The Marines are able to leave the area fairly secure partly because of the efforts of 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, the unit here before them.

    “Second Bn., 4th Marines set a good baseline with the local population,” said Cpl. Sedrick Hay, a team leader with Golf Company. “Before, they were finding (improvised explosive devices) around here, but they held a shura and were able to work out an agreement.”

    According to the Marines, many of whom are on their second deployment to Afghanistan, the skills of the Afghan National Security Forces have grown to a level where they are ready to be independent.

    “They’re actually going on local security patrols themselves,” said Hay. “When I was here last time, we were integrating them on patrols and they didn’t really go out on their own. They really don’t depend on us anymore.”

    The Marines have seen their Afghan counterparts apply the training they’ve received.

    “When we first got here, four ANA soldiers were (hurt), and they applied tourniquets and did first aid the same way Marines would do,” said Hay, 24 from Milwaukee. “That showed me that they are ready for the next step.”

    The Marines plan on completely turning over the base by mid-May.

    “For the pack-up, I’m not too thrilled because I really like it here.But as far as turning it over to the ANSF, it’s the right thing to do,” said Rettenberger, 32, from Dubuque, Iowa. “We’ve helped them get as far as they are, and they are ready to lead. Also, you don’t want to become the unwelcome guest.”

    Editor’s Note: Second Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment is part of Regimental Combat Team 6. RCT-6 falls under 1st Marine Division (Forward), which heads Task Force Leatherneck. The task force serves as the ground combat element of Regional Command (Southwest) and works in partnership with the Afghan National Security Force and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations. The unit is dedicated to securing the Afghan people, defeating insurgent forces, and enabling ANSF assumption of security responsibilities within its area of operations in order to support the expansion of stability, development and legitimate governance.



    Date Taken: 05.05.2012
    Date Posted: 05.05.2012 06:04
    Story ID: 87951
    Location: AF

    Web Views: 1,088
    Downloads: 4