3/25 finds strength through adaptability
By Cpl. Brian Gabriel Jr.
CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan – The Marines of 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment are preparing to head home as the Ohio-based unit’s first deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom comes to a close.
The Marines were not simply tasked with maintaining a portion of Regional Command Southwest’s current area of operations; the reserve infantry battalion’s influence extended far across Helmand province through reconnaissance, civil affairs, security and combat operations.
Throughout their seven-month deployment, 3/25 Marines conducted a wide variety of operations that ran the gamut of the counterinsurgency doctrine. While one 3/25 company would be in the throes of a highly intense firefight in Sangin, Marines from another company would be hosting a shura in Marjah.
“We did a lot of cultural training and a lot of language training,” Kaifesh said. “We also focused on patrolling, both mounted and dismounted, and immediate actions upon enemy tactics, techniques and procedures. And then we focused a lot on the civil affairs piece—going out and engaging with the population. We did the appropriate amount of training for this mission and it seemed to pay off.”
Although initially under the impression that they were deploying to conduct security missions exclusively, 3/25 quickly realized that the command had more responsibility in store for them.
“We knew coming in that we were going to be operating out of three main bases,” Kaifesh said. “What we did not anticipate was that when we got to those places, that we would be spread out even further. Currently, we have Marines in over 16 different places and under eight different chains of command.”
Sgt. Maj. Dan N. Altieri, battalion sergeant major, believes that the unit’s wide amount of operational capabilities left a favorable impression on the command, opening up more opportunities for his Marines.
“Once we were out here and they realized what we brought to the table, they started giving us more maneuver operations,” Altieri said. “That’s something we were very happy to get, and I think we’ve done well so far.”
The Aero Hunter mission happens to be one more of the more unique roles assumed by the Marines of Lima Company.
“The Aero Hunter mission is a great mission, and it’s got a ton of capability,” Kaifesh said. “Essentially it’s a quick reaction force of a platoon sized unit with a few helicopters that are able to respond to a variety of situations. The enemy is using certain avenues in the desert to transport drugs, money and weapons. We’re able to monitor those areas and when we see activity, be able to respond very quickly.”
Lima Company also lent a hand to units working in Marjah by maintaining local security and keeping the area free of improvised explosive devices.
“Not only does Lima Company do the Aero Hunter missions, they are also the tactical control force. They’re on the side of the road protecting those Marines and other forces by going up and down the road and keeping it clear for them. Just recently with 3/9, they’ve got involved in several different maneuver missions with that area of operations.”
Although originally acting as the security force for FOB Delaram, Kilo Company was eventually charged with assisting 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment in Sangin—one of the most dangerous and highly kinetic areas in southern Afghanistan. Later on, Col. Paul J. Kennedy, Regimental Combat Team 2 commander, had planned to relocate Kilo Company from Sangin to assist another unit. His plans changed slightly after observing first-hand how well the two units worked as a team.
“While he was at one of the [forward operating bases] in Sangin, there was a major firefight and some kinetic activity,” Kaifesh said. “He was able to witness Kilo 3/25 and the Marines of 3/5 work together jointly, harmoniously and after looking at that, he waved it off. They have since stayed with 3/5, helping them out in every way they can.”
3/25 has not only been highly successful during combat operations, but they have also made enormous progress working with the people of Afghanistan.
“The environment in the AO has gone from negative to neutral to overwhelmingly positive,” Kaifesh said. “And I think that’s because of what we’ve been able to do with the people. I think that’s a huge success—I think we’ve created what we wanted to, and that was an oasis of stability and security and protection.”
Maintaining a trusting relationship with the local populace also contributes to the unit’s ongoing security efforts throughout Helmand province.
“In this AO alone, the last three IED finds we had have all been call-in tips through our tip line,” Altieri said. “It shows that the public has enough trust in us that they’re calling us up and telling us where IEDs are.”
Even though 3/25’s current task at hand is markedly different than their original undertaking seven months ago, Altieri believes his unit has been met with success at every turn due to his Marines’ flexibility and ability to adapt.
“A lot of our strength is from the fact that a lot of our Marines can do a lot of different things,” Altieri said. “Being spread out, we’ve done a lot of great things all across this area of operations.”