Fast preparations, easy mission
Cpl. Nicholas Tremblay
Combat Correspondent

KABUL, Afghanistan - Marines with Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (Anti-Terrorism), can finally count the days they are scheduled to leave Afghanistan on one hand. When these 4th MEB (AT) warriors fly out of the country, they will have been providing security for the U.S. Embassy for 32 days.

In late September, the Marines of Lima Co. were preparing to leave for Fort A.P. Hill, Va., to receive training in infantry tactics. However, the day before their scheduled departure, Lima Co. Commander, Capt. Andrew Warren, was instructed to take 85 Marines to the embassy here to act as an interim security force for the 4th MEB (AT).

The Marines left 11 days later and had very little time to “gear-up” for the mission. Normally, embassy task forces have a three to four month work-up cycle to prepare for an upcoming mission because they must receive specialized training tailored to their specific mission and destination, Warren said.

“We had to boil down 90 days of training and do it in seven,” Warren said. “I’m proud of the Marines’ deployable readiness. When you are prepared for one mission and then have to change your mind set, it can be difficult. I couldn’t have asked for a better seven-day work-up. I think it set the standard for what was ahead of us.”

The Lima Co. Marines landed at Kabul International Airport, around noon. By midnight they were standing post and assumed all security duties and responsibilities, Warren said.

“Some Marines didn’t unpack for three days because they were busy standing post and performing other guard duties,” Warren said. “There was no warm-up for the task force. It was game time as soon as we landed.”

Although Warren and his Marines were alerted of their security mission on short notice, he was confident they could handle the job, he said. He attributes the success of the mission to resident knowledge within the company.

“For the senior Marines who have been here before, it was pretty easy to complete this mission because they knew what to expect.” said Sgt. Alex C. Brown, first squad leader, second section, Lima Co., 4th MEB (AT), who was at the embassy one year ago. “This time around was better for me because I was familiar with the lay-out of the embassy.”

Out of the 85 Marines, 30 of them served as part of the Embassy’s security forces one year ago. Their experience enabled them to teach the other Marines to effectively guard the embassy, Warren said.

“I think the new Marines did a pretty good job and fit right into place,” said Brown, a Detroit, Mich., native. “The Marines who were here before were able to mentor the junior Marines. They (junior Marines) were able to see how we reacted in different situations and with the people aboard the embassy, which I think helped the overall mission.”

Quick reaction drills were run frequently to keep the Marines ready and on their toes, Warren said. They constantly rehearsed what to do if the embassy was attacked or threatened, to ensure their contingency plans were strong and effective.

“This is an uncertain environment,” Warren said. “In a post Sept. 11 world, there is no such thing as a traditional mission any more. An anti-terrorism mission is tough because we are on the defense, not the offense; history will tell you that Marines prefer to be in the attack. Each day has its own challenges, but tomorrow might be the day we are attacked, and staying vigilant is the biggest challenge of all.”

“I think this mission and place is an eye opener for Marines,” Brown said. “Bullets aren’t constantly flying overhead and you can easily get complacent, and that is when something will happen. Being here makes you realize the importance of always staying alert and never letting your guard down.”

The Lima Co. Marines adapted very well to the unusual environment and untraditional mission to overcome all the challenges they encountered, Warren said.

“I couldn’t have asked them to be more professional or to do a better job than what they did,” Warren said. “I had certain expectations of the Marines at the beginning of this mission and they have far exceeded it in every way.”
When the Marines return home to Camp Lejeune, N.C., they will be able to enjoy time-off for Thanksgiving and Christmas with their families.

In December the Marines will participate in amphibious landing training. Then in February the Marines will travel to California where they will participate in a Combined Arms Exercise.
Lima Co., 3/2, 4th MEB (AT) Marines have recently arrived in country to replace 3/6.