Dear Marines, Sailors, Civilians, Family Members, and Friendsof I Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group,
hope you enjoyed our inaugural SENTINELS FORWARD family newsletter fromlast month, compliments of our superb U.S. Army 350th Public Affairs Detach-ment, which has been supporting us from day one. First Lt. Nixon and histeam have been everywhere both inside and outside the wire so our I MHG familiescan gain a sense of the tremendous work going on out here by your Marines andSailors. We are looking for ways to improve your newsletter and I welcome yoursuggestions on how to make it more enjoyable for everyone back home.We are another month into our deployment here in southern Afghanistanand my sense is that we are hitting our stride and performing at a very highlevel. I am very pleased with the performance of the I MHG Forward staff,companies and battalions. It’s truly a pleasure to watch our Marines and Sail-ors step up to the challenge and perform at a level a rank or two beyond theirexperience. I am proud of the entire team as they demonstrate a strong workethic, maturity, and courage.The “S-Shops” are working long hours with tremendous workloads andshort deadlines. They haven’t missed a beat as we continue to do more withless. The Sergeant Major and I have had an opportunity to spend additionaltime visiting our subordinate units here at Camp Leatherneck, as well as a few outlying forward operating and patrol bases.It is inspirational to see our Marines and Sailors in action, often living inharsh conditions and performing dangerous work. We will continue to get outin the coming weeks to ensure our I MHG units have everything they need formission success.It has been particularly rewarding to work with our assigned security force,2nd Battalion, 11th Marines, led by Lt. Col. Joe Allena, whose commentary youwill read in later pages. The 2/11 Marines are smart, tough, well led, and havedemonstrated tremendous initiative and innovation in the security operationsthey conduct day in and day out in our area of operations. 2/11 is having a tre-mendously positive effect on security in and around our camp. Although notpart of I MHG back in CONUS,2/11 is a fellow Camp Pendle-ton-based unit and we are very pleased to share some “news fromthe war front” with their family members.I MEF Forward under Maj.Gen. Gurganus’ leadership hasnow assumed responsibility foroperations in southwest Afghan-istan and is I MHG’s higherheadquarters.This has also increased ourpace of operations as we work toensure General Gurganus’ staff has all the required support toaccomplish it’s mission. As wehead into the spring, operationswill continue to increase and theweather will turn from cold to hot before we know it. Last week we experi-enced our first major sand storm and we are still cleaning up the fine particlesof sand that seem to get into everything.In closing, I want to thank our family members for providing the supportthat allows us to perform the mission we need to accomplish here in Afghani-stan. The operation is going well and we are achieving success. I recognizethe tremendous sacrifice our families are making, having their loved onesdeployed.I also want to recognize our fine group of family readiness volunteers thatsacrifice their time to make our family readiness program the success it is.Although we will miss attending this month’s “Spring Fling” at the Camp Pend-leton Ranch House, we look forward to hearing about the fun you had andseeing the pictures.
Col. Steven M. Hanson