When former President Barack Obama ordered a drawdown of U.S. troops in Afghanistan in 2014, it quickly became apparent that Afghan National Army soldiers and police officers weren’t quite up to the task of successfully holding off a resurgent Taliban force.
Thus, many American troops quietly remained in country to continue advising, assisting and training the Afghan forces to keep them better prepared. That included the 300-strong Task Force Southwest contingent of U.S. Marines on a mission to advise and train their Afghan counterparts, who took over for a different task force in Helmand province in April, according to Military.com.
As their role is simply to train Afghan units and provide advise for their security missions, Task Force Southwest is not considered a combat unit, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of or fully prepared to engage in combat if necessary, as evidenced by a recent video shared courtesy of the Military Times.
The video shows Marines of the task force’s security force taking part in their own training missions with mortars, machine guns and other crew-served weapons to retain their sharp edge and fighting abilities, just in case the enemy foolishly decides to bring the fight to them. You can watch it right here:
The live-fire exercises reportedly took place June 23-25, and were designed to ensure that the Marines retained their weapons-handling and firing capabilities, with the expectation that it would strengthen their overall security posture.
Most of the Marines in Task Force Southwest’s security force were originally part of the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, and not only help secure the base but also provide other security missions as the larger force trains the Afghan forces.
Stationed at Camp Shorobak in the Helmand Province, the Marines of the task force are largely working with the Afghan National Army’s 215th Corps and the 505th Zone National Police to better understand their challenges and help them maximize their capabilities, according to a news release published by the Resolute Support Headquarters.
Task Force Southwest is on a nine-month deployment schedule, and it remained unclear at this time who would replace them once they have rotated out of country.
However, considering that President Donald Trump and Defense Secretary James Mattis have announced the addition of several thousand more troops to the region to destroy the Taliban forces, there should be plenty of units to choose from to fill their void.
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