HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan --
Marines of the Regimental Combat Team 7 Personal Security Detachment are finishing the final lap as they wrap up a year of conducting operations throughout Helmand province, Afghanistan.
The Marines accomplished more than 45 escort missions as the security element for the regimental commander, Col. Randall P. Newman, throughout Helmand province and as the jump platoon, the forward command-and-control element of RCT-7. Most of them have deployed as infantrymen with battalions and are on their second or third combat deployment.
Marines from the RCT-7 PSD have spent a year working alongside one another taking the RCT commander to the frontlines in support of Operations Cobra’s Anger, Moshtarak, Roadhouse and other key engagements that led to RCT-7’s success in Helmand province.
The PSD drivers deal with various factors, including fatigue, long drives and last-minute decisions made to accomplish the mission. Their training is instrumental in ensuring mission success on short notice, said Cpl. Jeremy B. Collins, a section leader for the RCT-7 PSD.
“It’s like being a (reaction team) in way, because when the colonel is ready to go, we are on the trucks standing by to push at any given time,” said Collins, from Houston, Texas. “It can be at two in the morning. If he needs to get somewhere, we are getting up and prepping for mission.”
While they are responsible for the personal security of the colonel, the jump platoon also serves as a mobile hub to keep Newman informed, so that he can carry out his mission as RCT-7 commander while out and about in the battle space.
“Our primary concern is the safety of the colonel,” said Cpl. Christopher M. Creech, a radio operator for PSD. “When we go outside of (Camp) Dwyer, I am his primary communicator back to the battalion. The truck commanders and platoon commander keeping him informed and maintaining that connectivity.”
Because the commanding officer has had his own mobile section, it has allowed him to get to places within the battle space that he would normally not be able to get to without requiring support from the battalions, said Sgt. Richard S. Wagemaker, the platoon sergeant for RCT-7 PSD.
“All the Marines wonder what happens at a level higher than theirs,” said Wagemaker, from Homedale, Idaho. “Being with PSD, you get a really good look at how it all works, and it gives you a better appreciation for what higher (headquarters) does to support the battalions.”
Like all Marines of RCT-7, they can say that they spent a year in Afghanistan to increase success towards the development of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan by completely their task and mission as the RCT-7 PSD and jump platoon.
“These guys give me the ability to command and control every unit on the battlefield,” said Col. Randall P. Newman, the RCT-7 commanding officer. “There is not a corner of this battle space these guys haven’t been on. They have seen it all. Their sense of accomplishment is truly significant. I couldn’t have done my job here if it weren’t for them.”