CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan --
No matter what time of the day or night, a Marine is always standing watch – he is the first line of defense against attacks and protects those under his charge.
Every Marine learns the importance of standing guard and keeping a watchful eye over his fellow Marines. However, approximately 30 Marines from 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) have taken these basic skills to the next level and assumed their role as the Base Defense Augmentation Force.
Each unit aboard Camp Leatherneck augments Marines to support BDAF as part of the Camp Leatherneck Security Force. In 3rd MAW (Fwd)’s case, Marines volunteered to deploy for four months to provide the needed support for this vital role.
Their primary mission as the BDAF is to man the perimeter guard towers, gates and main entry points to the base, explained Gunnery Sgt. Matthew Thresher, base defense operations chief for 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, which is a reserve infantry unit currently serving as the Camp Leatherneck Security Force.
Before the Marines can take their posts, they must first complete familiarization and live fire training with the weapons used by BDAF.
“The Marines receive classes before live-fire training, which include a breakdown on the characteristics of the different weapons systems,” said Staff Sgt. Patrick Burgess, the range control staff noncommissioned officer with 3/25. “These include the 240B medium weight machine gun, the M2 .50-caliber machine gun and the MK19 Mod3 40mm grenade machine gun. The classes break down the specific mechanics, characteristics, operations and handling procedures of the weapons.”
For some Marines, this is the first time since Marine Combat Training that they have fired these types of weapons.
“I shot [the .50-caliber machine gun] within the last six months, but that is because my shop does a lot of [combat-related] training,” said Sgt. Aaron Getter, an aviation radio repairman currently serving with the BDAF. “It was good to get the refresher training because these Marines are going to need to know how to utilize these weapons.”
Augments, like Getter, come from military occupational specialties such as administration and other aviation support roles that would not otherwise deploy in this capacity.
“It’s not about me, it’s not about the deployment, it’s about protecting my fellow Marines,” said Sgt. Steven Satham, a BDAF Marine.
To help the Marines defend the Camp Leatherneck perimeter, they also receive classes on anti-terrorism/force protection, laws of war, rules of engagement and how to manage access control points.
Though BDAF Marines spend a short time deployed to Afghanistan providing support for base defenses, their responsibility to protect the Afghan and coalition forces residing aboard Camp Leatherneck will remain constant, and the perimeter will always be manned.