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I MEF provides the Marine Corps a globally responsive, expeditionary, and fully scalable Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF), capable of generating, deploying, and employing ready forces and formations for crisis response, forward presence, major combat operations, and campaigns. 


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1st Marine Division
July 20, 2021 | 1:51
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Photo Information

A Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicle pulls forward into the convoy transporting the last team members of Security Force Assistance Advisor Team 4-215 out of Forward Operating Base Delaram II for the last time, April 8, 2014. The Marines and sailors of SFAAT 4-215 have steadily advised and supported the ANA soldiers in areas of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and casualty evacuation support, watching them grow in their confidence and ability to stand on their own. While advisors remain at the headquarters level in Helmand province in order to advise and assist as needed, the transfer signifies that 4th Brigade is ready to operate independently of coalition advisors. (USMC Photo By: Sgt. Frances Johnson/Released)

Photo by Sgt. Frances Johnson

Last U.S. Forces leave Nimroz province, Afghan National Army is ready to stand on their own

17 Apr 2014 | Sgt. Frances Johnson

An estimated 7 million Afghans were able to successfully and peacefully vote in the recent Afghan national elections due to the security provided solely by Afghan National Security Forces.

The Afghan National Army and other ANSF pillars stood strong, ensuring a peaceful voting process for their fellow Afghans after years of training and advising from their International Security Assistance Force partners. The ANA soldiers of 4th Brigade, 215th Corps have been trained and advised by a rotational team of Marines and sailors known as Security Force Assistance Advisor Team 4-215.

The SFAAT has been steadily advising and supporting the ANA in areas of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and casualty evacuation support, watching the soldiers grow in their confidence and ability to stand on their own. While living next to their counterparts for the past year, the SFAAT gave the ANA many fundamental courses, building strong relationships and understanding with one another as well as a sturdy foundation on which the 4th Brigade can continue to grow.

After The ANA successfully provided security for the April 5 elections, SFAAT 4-215 transferred Forward Operating Base Delaram II to the 4th Brigade. While advisors remain at the headquarters level in Helmand province in order to advise and assist as needed, the transfer signifies that 4th Brigade is ready to operate independently of coalition advisors.

The 4th Brigade is the only brigade of the 215th Corps in Nimroz province, and must be a rock-solid force in order to maintain the security of the entire area of operations. Though the 4th Brigade is the youngest of the four brigades in the youngest Corps in the ANA, the soldiers have come together under the advising of SFAAT 4-215, forming a strong, cohesive force ready to defend their country.

“The 4th Brigade was created from 2nd Brigade before they moved to Sangin; this brigade has only existed as a unit for about two years,” said Capt. Theodore Martin, the operations advisor with SFAAT 4-215, and a Portland, Ore. native. “The brigade is ready to be independent and it is time for us to leave, it does feel good to leave on a high note.”

As they prepared to leave, the Marines looked back on their time in Nimroz province, assured that their counterparts have grown considerably and will continue to do so.

“I'm extremely confident the ANA will continue to persevere,” said Lt.Col. Thomas Zeigler, the team leader of SFAAT 4-215. “They clearly overmatch the enemy, and are capable of providing effective security wherever they are. They plan and conduct security operations with other ANSF pillars, sustain themselves, and support (the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan) by protecting the people.”

Martin explained that when the team first arrived, the brigade still needed help for explosive ordinance disposal support, medical evacuations, indirect fire support, and conducting staff planning, but that the 4th Brigade has come a long way.

“They are now fully independent in explosive ordinance disposal, finding more improvised explosive devices than they hit,” said Martin.  “Indirect fire, they have shot in support of checkpoints and operations several times in the last month, they conduct ground medevacs and have even done two air medevacs with Mi-17s. They were able to come together as a staff to plan a clearing operation that integrated two infantry Kandaks, fires, route clearance, and logistical support. We didn't do any of this for them, but we helped them realize that they could.”

As the SFAAT leaves with confidence in the guidance they have given their Afghan counterparts to carry out their future missions on their own, they have also learned lessons from the ANA.

“Initially I was a little worried about their tools and equipment,” said Master Sgt. Richard Oldham, explosive ordnance disposal advisor, SFAAT 4-215, and a Cleveland native. “We are spoiled compared to them, it's taught me how to do more with less. Even with their lack of resources, they get the job done. Never underestimate them.”

The Marines and sailors of SFAAT 4-215 are set to soon redeploy to Camp Lejeune, N.C., and reunite with their families. They have no doubt their new brothers-in-arms will succeed in their goal for a more stable Afghanistan not only in the near future, but further on down the road as well.

“We've seen the entire ANA develop at an unbelievable rate, in spite of substantial challenges,” said Zeigler. “Undoubtedly, they will need to make adjustments to account for reduced coalition support, and will most likely not operate exactly as we've envisioned, but this is precisely the next critical step in their evolution. I believe they will emerge leaner, meaner, and more effective than they are now. I look forward to watching them succeed. They're ready.”

I MEF Leaders

Lt. Gen. Karsten "Hazel" Heckl
Commanding General, I Marine Expeditionary Force

Lieutenant General Karsten "Hazel" Heckl assumed command of I Marine Expeditionary Force on 31 July 2020.A native of Stone Mountain Georgia, Lieutenant General Heckl graduated from Georgia State University and was commissioned in April 1988.  He was designated an unrestricted Naval Aviator in September 1990.Lieutenant General Heckl commanded Marine

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Brig. Gen. Ryan S. “Chick” Rideout
Deputy Commanding General, I Marine Expeditionary Force

Brigadier General Rideout assumed duties as Deputy Commanding General, I Marine Expeditionary Force in July 2021. His previous assignment was serving as Director, Military Advisor Group, Combined Joint Task Force - Operation INHERENT RESOLVE based in Baghdad, Iraq from June of 2020 to June 2021. Fleet Marine Force assignments include: Commanding

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Colonel Brian Rideout
Chief of Staff, I Marine Expeditionary Force

Colonel Rideout holds a baccalaureate degree in Psychology from Ohio Wesleyan University, a Master of Science in Information Technology Management from the Naval Postgraduate School, a Master of Military Studies from Marine Corps University and a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College.  He is a graduate

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Sgt. Maj. Terrence C. Whitcomb
Sergeant Major, I Marine Expeditionary Force

Sergeant Major Whitcomb began Marine Corps Recruit Training on 14 September 1993 at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, California with Company C, 1st Recruit Training Battalion.  He was meritoriously promoted to Private First Class and graduated Recruit Training on 10 December 1993. Following graduation from Recruit Training, Private First

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Command Master Chief

 Though a native of Montebello, California, Master Chief Ruiz calls Monte Vista, Colorado home.  He enlisted in the Navy in March 1991, reported to basic training at RTC Great Lakes, Illinois and completed Signalman “A” School at NTC Orlando, Florida.  After serving two tours as a collateral-duty Command Career Counselor in 2000 and 2003, he became

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