MCAS Cherry Point News


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Col. James Parker, the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) chief of staff, serves a meal to Afghan National Army Brig. Gen. Ghulam Farooq Parwani during the during a dinner for coalition leaders at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, Sept. 28. Farooq, the deputy commanding general of the Afghan Army’s 215th Corps, and other Afghan soldiers reflected on their service with their British and Marine peers.

Photo by Staff Sgt. James Richardson

Coalition builds camaraderie by remembering loss, celebrating triumph together in Afghanistan

4 Oct 2011 | Cpl. Justin M. Boling

With tables set and food prepared, officers from three nations gathered together under a single tent on 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward)’s compound at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan.

During the dinner, leaders from the Afghan National Army, British forces and the U.S. Marine Corps gathered around a few tables for a hearty meal and to reflect on their service together in Afghanistan.

“The event was very good for our relationship with our allies,” said Afghan National Army Brig. Gen. Ghulam Farooq Parwani, the deputy commanding general of the Afghan army’s 215th Corps. “We are very happy to celebrate our coalition and the successes we have shared.”

Marines and British forces fight side-by-side with Afghan troops in southwestern Afghanistan. The coalition forces also offer aerial support, military training and mentorship to the Afghan military, boosting its proficiency in fighting the insurgency here.

Col. Ben Hancock, the assistant wing commander of 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward), said Afghan troops have shown their strength in military training and operations. The dinner highlights the importance of building camaraderie, he added.

The Marines and British troops served as hosts explained Col. Peter Eadie, the commander of Task Force Jaguar, the British aviation element of the NATO International Security Assistance Force in southwestern Afghanistan.

“Our relationship with our Afghan peers is very strong,” said Eadie. “It was made evident in the short speech given by Brig. Gen. Farooq during the festivities.”

“The event to us felt like a celebration of our established friendship and growth,” said Farooq. “Due to everyone’s hard work we constantly see security improvements toward a more stable Afghanistan.”

Eadie said he felt inspired to see how much the Afghans troops appreciate the efforts of the coalition to help them keep Afghanistan secure.

In addition to senior British and Afghan military officials, the dinner was attended by Maj. Gen. Glenn Walters, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward)’s commanding general, and Maj. Gen. John Toolan, the commanding general of Regional Command (Southwest). Toolan serves as the commander for all NATO International Security Assistance Force troops in southwestern Afghanistan.

“Tonight is about the collective sacrifice of our nations and to pay tribute to all those who gave the ultimate sacrifice,” 2nd Lt. Jay Glover said, the most junior officer present at the event .

Spread throughout the tables were 60 identification tags looped around flickering candles. Each tag bore the name of a fallen coalition troop who had given his life in Afghanistan.

“The underlying theme for the evening was everyone celebrating working together and the strength of our partnership despite our losses,” said Eadie.

“We spent a lot of time planning and preparing this event to share our traditions with our Afghan allies,” said Hancock. “I feel that the hope is to teach the Afghans the importance of both building troop appreciation and remembering those lost.”

Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point