FORWARD OPERATING BASE RIPLEY, Afghanistan -- Army infantrymen recently joined the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) in its continuing combat operations in central Afghanistan.
The 22nd MEU (SOC) is operating under the moniker Task Force Linebacker, and its mission is to disrupt Taliban and anti-coalition militia networks in southern and central Afghanistan. There they have operated for nearly three months, recently gaining notoriety for their tremendous success in what is considered the traditional heartland of the Taliban.
Lieutenant Col. Terry L. Sellers, the battalion commander of the 2nd Bn., 5th Infantry Regiment (2-5), said his soldiers are ready to join the fight.
"Our guys have been wanting a piece of the action," said Sellers, referring to the recent weeks of fighting in which the 22nd MEU (SOC), along with Afghan National Army and provincial Afghan Militia Forces, have killed or captured nearly one hundred enemy fighters. "I think they'll do a good job for the 22nd MEU."
Sellers' battalion is part of the 25th Infantry Division (Light), which deployed from Hawaii and has worked extensively in the Ghazni province prior to joining the MEU. While in Ghazni, the battalion worked with the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) to help bring legitimacy to the coalition and central government. The PRTs implement civil-military operations critical to rebuild the war-torn nation.
"We are excited about joining Linebacker and it's been an easy fit so far," said Sellers.
With the addition of the Army battalion, Task Force Linebacker has more combat power and will be able to operate deeper into regions where coalition forces have not had a substantial and lasting impact.
Task Force Linebacker, under the command of Marine Col. Kenneth F. McKenzie, Jr., has operated extensively in Oruzgan and northern Kandahar Provinces since late April.
McKenzie welcomed the additional rifle battalion stressing that while election efforts are growing exponentially in Linebacker's area of operations, there is much work remaining in both the combat and the civil-military arenas.
"I believe conditions are ripe for NGOs [non-governmental organizations] to come in and help the people of the Tarin Kowt bowl," said McKenzie. Tarin Kowt is the provincial capital of Oruzgan. He also stressed that it will take continued aggressive efforts to keep the region safe.
That sounds good to Sellers. According to him, "We have several great missions and look forward to executing them to a high standard."
In addition to the Army's 2nd Bn., 5th Regiment, Task Force Linebacker consists of the 22nd MEU (SOC)'s command element, Battalion Landing Team 1st Bn., 6th Marines, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 266 (Reinforced) and MEU Service Support Group 22.
For more information on the 22nd MEU (SOC) and Task Force Linebacker, visit the unit's web site www.22meu.usmc.mil.