A Marine infantry battalion shouldered a large chunk of responsibility for U.S. military operations across the Middle East as it covered down on three war zones.
From small fire bases in Syria and Iraq, to Helmand province, Afghanistan, and a show of force exercise aimed at countering Russian provocations near a small U.S. garrison at al Tanf, Syria — Marines with 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines were spread across a large swath of terrain during their 2018 deployment to the U.S. Central Command area of operations.
Part of the unit’s thin but vast footprint across the Middle East was detailed in a series of charge sheets obtained by Marine Corps Times via a Freedom of Information Act Request, which listed the locations and outposts where various misconduct occurred.
The misconduct reports provide a unique glimpse into a Marine deployment cycle across the CENTCOM theater as U.S. military operations continue to battle against ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria and a Taliban onslaught in Afghanistan.
The Corps says 3/7’s deployment in support of CENTCOM was relatively normal for a Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force.
“It is not uncommon for SPMAGTF-CR-CC [Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Central Command] to provide support for and respond to multiple contingencies and standing mission requirements simultaneously,” Maj. Joseph Reney, a spokesman with Marine Force Central Command, told Marine Corps Times. “Currently, operations have SPMAGTF Marines spread across several countries, serving in a range of these capacities.”
“During its deployment with SPMAGTF-CR-CC, 3d Battalion, 7th Marines filled many of these missions. Their Marines contributed directly to operations across the Central Command area of responsibility.”
The Marines with 3/7 operated from major Iraqi air bases like al Asad in Anbar province and Taqaddum in central Iraq, according to details provided in the charge sheets.
And they took on ISIS militants from a remote outpost near Dashisha, Syria, to a small fire base in Iraq named Um Jorais.
Some Marines with 3/7 were also supporting operations in Afghanistan at Camp Jadeed, located in the volatile Helmand province, where a small Marine unit known as Task Force Southwest is advising Afghan security forces to beat back Taliban gains in the region.
During the summer, a contingent of Marines with 3/7 loaded onto MV-Ospreys and carried out an air assault to help establish a new small fire base for U.S. Army and Iraqi artillery.
That firebase provided artillery support to Syrian partner forces fighting to clear out ISIS pockets in Dashisha, Syria.
Marines with 3/7 also were operating out of a small outpost in Syria located in the vicinity of Dashisha, a charge sheet detailed.
And in September, a company size element of 3/7 conducted an air assault live fire exercise near a small U.S. garrison at al Tanf, not far from the Iraq-Syria border, following statements from Russian forces they would breach a 55 km deconfliction bubble around the base to pursue terrorists.
The exercise was largely described in the media as a show of force by U.S. forces to deter any potential moves by Russian or proxy sponsored troops around the U.S. base housing American troops training anti-ISIS fighters.
The Corps says its CENTCOM MAGTF “is instrumental in providing the right force in the right place at the right time.”
Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.