Shortly before we embedded with U.S. fight infantry in southern Afghanistan for a third time in Oct 2012, my partner during a time pronounced something reassuring.
“Don’t worry,” she said. “I adore we from here to Camp Leatherneck.”
It’s a view many Americans can describe to. The installation, built adjacent to a British bottom Camp Bastion in 2008, grew into a sprawling, dusty, infantry metropolis, and a categorical heart of a fight bid in aroused Helmand province. Tens of thousands of U.S. infantry served on Leatherneck and flowed by it to smaller bases, as President Obama’s surged army into a segment to both base out a rebellion and sight a Afghan infantry and police.
On Sunday, a United States and Britain turned over control of Leatherneck and Bastion to a Afghan infantry they have been training for years. A few other vital bloc installations in a nation will remain, yet a transition is one of a many thespian milestones to date in a circuitous down of a Afghanistan War.
In many ways, a fight in Helmand was a ideal microcosm of a incomparable conflict. Combat operations there killed hundreds of coalitions infantry and maimed many more, as a they tangled with a Taliban in brightly colored poppy fields, murky canals and dried compounds. The risk acted by makeshift bomb inclination was everywhere — on roads, in canals, even in walls. Those who stepped out on feet patrols still simulate on it.
Helmand also served as an glorious instance of how Obama’s plan forced costly decisions on a battlefield. At Leatherneck, it meant countless new housing complexes, gyms, bureau buildings, food halls and a construction of a mile-long runway, even with a designed withdrawal of troops. Some comforts incited out to be unnecessary, including a two-story, 64,000-square feet operations core that cost $34 million and collected cobwebs.
The Leatherneck-Bastion formidable also was a site of one of a many fantastic and barbarous attacks of a war. Fifteen armed fighters sneaked onto Bastion on Sept. 14, 2012, rising an conflict with grenades, appurtenance guns and other weapons that killed dual Marines — Lt. Col. Christopher Raible, 40, and Sgt. Bradley Atwell, 27 — bleeding 17 other bloc members and broken or exceedingly shop-worn 9 aircraft. That, too, could be a seen as a symbol. The Taliban increasingly launched high-profile attacks as a fight progressed, capitalizing on vulnerabilities a bloc showed.
The turnover of Camp Leatherneck leaves many infantry who have been there with churned feelings. Uneven formula recently from a Afghan infantry still confronting a Taliban in Helmand lift questions about what a segment will demeanour like but bloc involvement. The segment is distant from Kabul politically and geographically, And many consternation what their sacrifices eventually will yield. But there’s also approval that a U.S. had to spin Leatherneck over during some point.
@USMC It’s only going to tumble within a week
— Natsu (@EcchiTaskForce) October 26, 2014
“@USMC: TODAY: Marines incited over control of Camp Leatherneck to Afghan Security Forces.” FOR REAL????? There goes a neighborhood.
— Camacho, D. I. (@diegocamacho) October 26, 2014
— Bill Downey (@DowneyBill) October 26, 2014
The turnover Sunday came on a same day of a Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, and maybe there is some communication in that. A jubilee of nationalism and perseverance, it began with a only American to acquire a Medal of Honor in Helmand, Cpl. William Kyle Carpenter, sky-diving to a start of a competition with other parachutists while carrying a 7,800 square-foot American flag, a largest ever used in a opening jump. He did so scarcely 4 years after scarcely being killed while helmet a associate Marine from a palm grenade blast.
I returned home from that Oct 2012 outing to Afghanistan with a accumulation of stories, including one furious night witnessing a U.S. sniper mission. we recently due to that girlfriend, and haven’t been behind to Helmand.
Like a lot of Americans who have visited, though, a memories remain. There’s a small Camp Leatherneck in all of us.