Marine Raiders of the Second Marine Raider Battalion were awarded medals for heroic action during a fierce firefight in Afghanistan in 2019. The awards were presented during a ceremony at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina on July 10, 2020. The names of the Marines were not released due to the sensitive nature of their special operations mission.
The MARSOC team was engaged by enemy combatants during a heliborne raid in enemy-controlled territory in southern Afghanistan. The awards were presented by Major General James Glynn, the Marine Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC) commander.
One Marine Raider was awarded the Silver Star. He led his team of Marine Raiders and Afghan soldiers during four hours of combat with Taliban fighters who were occupying defensive strongholds. The Team Chief lead an assault over 30 meters of open terrain while under enemy fire to attack insurgents entrenched in a bunker. He also exposed himself to enemy fire to pull a wounded Afghan soldier to a covered position. The team engaged the enemy with rifle fire and hand grenades.
One Critical Skills Operator, one Special Operations Capability Specialist, and one Special Operations Officer were awarded the Bronze Star with Valor for their actions. Four other Marine Raiders were awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Valor.
The Marine Raiders were under constant enemy fire for four hours. They repeatedly exposed themselves to Taliban rifle fire. The Marine Raider team were able to defeat the Taliban force that included three high-value enemy commanders.
Throughout the four-hour close combat engagement, multiple team members bravely exposed themselves to enemy fire and employed small arms fire, fragmentation grenades, and shoulder-fired rockets to suppress or destroy additional enemy fighting positions. The combined efforts of this Marine Raider team resulted in the complete destruction of a determined enemy, including three high-value enemy commanders.
“The entire team remained calm, concise over the radios. They were controlled, efficient, synchronized, and ultimately, brutally lethal to end that fight. One thing I did want to recognize is that this was not an isolated incident. This is the incident we are recognizing these guys for, but this happened multiple times, with the same, if not, very similar circumstances and many of the Marines being honored today did the exact same actions and performed just as well multiple times. You guys humbled me throughout the entire deployment. It was an honor to serve with you.”Comments (during the ceremony) of the Silver Star recipient, July 10, 2020.
The Marine Corps has a long history of deployments to Afghanistan – principally in Helmand province. With the reduction in U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan in 2014 the Marines departed Helmand province. After the Marines departure the security situation in the province deteriorated significantly and the Marines returned in 2017 – forming Task Force Southwest.
Many Marine Raider teams have deployed across Afghanistan in the past – most frequently in southern and western Afghanistan. For a few years the Marines contributed a battalion-sized Special Operations Task Force (SOTF) that operated in western Afghanistan as part of the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force – Afghanistan (CJSOTF-A) based at Bagram Air Field (near Kabul).
The 2nd Marine Raider Battalion was activated in 2006 and is headquartered at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. It is organized, trained, and equipped to deploy globally for missions. The battalion has Marine Special Operations Companies (MSOC) that are task-organized with personnel and equipment capable of executing the full spectrum of special operations in support of geographic combatant commanders.
The Marine Forces Special Operations Command consists of the Marine Raider Regiment, Marine Raider Support Group, and the Marine Raider Training Center. Currently, all MARSOC units are at Camp Lejeune except for the 1st Marine Raider Battalion and the 1st Marine Raider Support Battalion at Camp Pendleton. However, these two units will soon relocate to Camp Lejeune beginning in 2021.
MARSOC is the Marine component of the U.S. Special Operations Command. It is tasked by USSOCOM to deploy MARSOC forces worldwide to accomplish special operations missions. These missions include counterterrorism, foreign internal defense, security force assistance, and counterinsurgency.
Photo: A Marine Raider was awarded the Silver Star Medal for heroic actions while deployed to Afghanistan in 2019. The master sergeant and Critical Skills Operator was serving as a Team Chief with the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion. Photo by Gunnery Sgt. Lynn Kinney, Marine Forces, Special Operations Command, Camp Lejeune, NC on July 10, 2020. The face of the Marine is intentionally blurred.