Thursday, July 2, 2009
CAMP LEATHERNECK, Helmand Province, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
Today, nearly 4,000 U.S. Marines and Sailors of Task Force Leatherneck, partnered with Afghan National Security Forces and supported by Task Force Pegasus, the Combat Aviation Brigade of the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division, conducted a near-simultaneous heliborne and surface insert into the central and southern Helmand River valley.
U.S. Marines from the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, 1st Battalion 5th Marines wait at Camp Leatherneck to board helicopters for a night air assault in Afghanistan's Helmand province Thursday July 2, 2009. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
The rifle beside the Marine racking out against his gear in the middle foreground is a USN Mark 12 Mod 0/1 Special Purpose Rifle (SPR). Here’s another photo of it.
Towards the end of my time in operational units (2004) that weapon was introduced. Since then Marines began fielding the Special Purpose Rifle (SPR) to their Scout Sniper Platoons to be used by the observers to augment the current 8 sniper rifles with its own sub-minute of angle accuracy.
It’s impossible to tell if the helicopters in the background are CH-53 Sea Stallions or MH-53 Pave Lows. Pave Lows have a refueling boom protruding from the front end. The distinction is significant; CH-53’s are organic to the Marine Corps, MH-53’s are part of Air Force Special Operations. If they are Pave Lows, then these are MARSOF troops, the Marine Corps portion of USSOCOM, and they are participating in Joint operations.
Brigadier General Larry D. Nicholson is the Commanding General of Task Force Leatherneck. BG Nicholson was born in Toronto, Canada.