After a year of advising the Afghan National Security Forces in southern Afghanistan, Maj. Gen. W. Lee Miller and Sgt. Maj. Paul Berry cased the colors of the II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) during a deactivation ceremony at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune March 28.
Notable guests at the event included Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James Amos, Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Michael Barrett, and Maj. Gen. Raymond Fox, commanding general of II Marine Expeditionary Force.
The ceremony signaled an official end to the unit’s mission of supporting NATO’s International Security Assistance Force operations in southern Afghanistan. For the past year, the Marines and sailors of II MEF (Fwd) alongside coalition partners in Regional Command (Southwest) served in an advisory and mentorship capacity to support ANSF in Helmand and Nimroz provinces.
In his remarks, Miller praised the unit for serving during a critical chapter in the war in Afghanistan. The Afghan National Army, Afghan Local Police, and Afghan Uniformed Police assumed responsibility for security in many of the districts in Helmand and Nimroz provinces early in the unit’s deployment.
As the Afghan National Security Forces took the lead role in security operations, coalition forces transitioned from a comprehensive counterinsurgency strategy to an increased focus on security force assistance. The Marine Corps took on a secondary role, serving as advisors for the counterinsurgency mission.
Miller said the Marines and sailors of II MEF (Fwd) were instrumental in the transitional process and were vital to the successful mission of Security Force Assistance.
“During the most recent II MEF (Fwd) deployment, we had eight nations and every military branch represented, about 18,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines,” said Miller, the commander of II MEF (Fwd). “Regardless of nationality or branch of service, there was a shared spirit de corps, discipline and genuine concern for the person next to them in their fighting position.”
Miller applauded the Afghan National Security Forces and said he has seen a remarkable change in the stability of the country, which he attributes to the improved capabilities of military, police, and government organizations. Miller stated their achievements are an example of effective and efficient advising.
“As the campaign evolved, we moved from partnered operations at the kandak level to a focus on operational unit advising and functions sustainability at the provincial and regional levels,” said Miller. “Throughout these challenges, we worked together to achieve our mission of transition, both a transfer of leads security responsibility, as well as a transfer of governments and civil service functions to the Afghans in Helmand and Nimroz provinces.”