“Deputy Commanding General for Marine Forces Pacific, Brigadier General McAbee, visit FOBs Jalal Abad and Asad Abad.” — Source: 3/3 Command Chronology for the Period 01 July to 31 December 2004
Marines renew focus on Afghan mission
Story by: Marine Lance Cpl. Rich Mattingly
February 2, 2005
CAMP EGGERS, FORWARD OPERATING BASE ASADABAD, Afghanistan –– During a visit to Marines and Sailors deployed to Afghanistan, the deputy commanding general of Marine Forces Central Command, gathered the Marines and Sailors of India Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, who have just completed their first month deployed along the Afghan-Pakistan border.
Marine Brig. Gen. Jerry McAbee, a former commanding general of Marine Corps Base Hawaii, the home station of 3rd Bn., 3rd Marines, gave the Marines and Sailors a pep-talk Dec. 14, as they settle in for the long-haul of their deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Clustered in a “school circle” around the general, and framed by the backdrop of Asadabad’s imposing mountains, the troops of “America’s Battalion,” were eager for word of their sister unit, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment’s activities in Iraq, as well as any information on what they could expect during the rest of their tour in Afghanistan.
Rather than spend just a few minutes extolling the virtues of the Global War on Terrorism, McAbee answered questions from the Marines about a variety of subjects ranging from how long they could expect to be deployed, to how the future landscape of forces projected into the Middle East might look.
“Your clock started the moment you got in country,” said McAbee, to the relief of many of the Marines. “You can expect to be here seven months. If you look to the future, that’s what we’re going to do. You’ll be home seven months and deployed seven months.”
McAbee, in his traditionally forward style, also addressed the Marine Corps’ ability to remain heavily taxed with deployments and still provide Marines with the same training opportunities.
“We haven’t closed off any options to Marines,” said McAbee. “There won’t be any school stoppages. You’ll still be able to go to those alternate billets and train the way you always have.”
Many Marines said they felt they had a renewed focus of their mission after the general’s talk.
“We’ve only been here a month, but it’s easy to lose site of why we’re here and what we’re doing,” said Marine Lance Cpl. Brian Thomas, a rifleman with 1st Platoon, Co. I, 3rd Bn., 3rd Marines, after speaking with the general.
“It reiterated our purpose for me,” continued the 21-year-old who has been patrolling with his company in the Asadabad area for the past month, building a rapport with the community during missions.
“The kids all love us,” said Thomas. “The older people, like our age, are curious. The old folks are really appreciative. They come up and want to shake your hand and say ‘thank you’ and ‘we love the Marines.’”
“Everything we do here – it really feels like we’re helping somebody,” said Wiesen.
“Hearing why you’re doing something somewhere helps make it feel worthwhile when it gets difficult to be away from home,” added Freudenberg.
McAbee assured the Marines they would be deploying again after their tour in Afghanistan, and Marines and Fleet Marine Forces Sailors could expect to be involved in the Global War on Terrorism for a long time to come.
“This war that we’re in is going to be longer than the Cold War, and will be fought on more fronts,” said McAbee. “You Marines and Sailors are fortunate. You will always be able to tell your grandchildren, when you’re in your rocking chair down in Louisiana, that you didn’t just sit around during this fight.”
Source: Freedom Watch