Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif --
Marines and sailors from 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, arrived at the Combat Center, Saturday, after a seven month-long deployment to Helmand province, Afghanistan.
Family, friends and fellow service members of 1/7 anxiously gathered at Del Valle Field to welcome home the advanced party.
“A mother misses her son no matter how long he’s gone or what he’s doing,” said Mary Shivers, mother of 1st Lt. Derek Shivers, company executive officer, Company C, 1/7. “But, if he’s in Afghanistan for months you just can’t wait until he’s home and safe.”
The purpose of this deployment was to transition control from the Sangin District of Afghanistan to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, said Lt. Col. David Bradney, commanding officer, 1/7. A considerable amount of time was spent building relationships, a sense of cooperation and trust within the coalition and civilian forces and between the United States and its Afghan counterparts.
“Our success overseas can be attributed to hard work, good training and Marines dedicated to the mission,” said Maj. Jonathan Holder, battalion executive officer, 1/7.
“These Marines are really phenomenal. Out of the five battalions I’ve been with during my 20 years in [the Marine Corps], this is the best group yet. From enlisted Marines to officers, they’re all dedicated professionals.”
The unit was part of Regimental Combat Team 6, which works in partnership with the Afghan National Security Force and the GIRoA to conduct counterinsurgency operations. They attempted to locate the insurgents’ logistical cashes, deny them their traditional safe-havens and eliminate their freedom of movement.
‘First Team’ de-militarized five forward operating bases, re-scoped four additional bases and assumed an area previously occupied by three full infantry battalions. They were unaccompanied due to recent draw-down efforts. The units’ achievements paved the way for Afghan Security Forces to take charge.
“The Sangin District is as secure as it has ever been,” Bradney said. “These Afghan forces are more capable than they have ever been. These efforts have provided a much higher level of security for the people, it has given them opportunities for prosperity they have not seen in decades and have given them a voice.”