Marines and Sailors of 15thMarine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) Special Operations Capable (SOC) closed Forward Operating Base (FOB) Rhino in southern Afghanistan during the first week of January 2002 and reconstituted aboard the USS PELELIU Amphibious Ready Group (PELARG) in the Northern Arabian Sea. At the same time, several members of the Task Force 58 (TF 58) staff disembarked the USS PELELIU while others left FOB Rhino for “temper tents” at Naval Support Activity (NSA) Bahrain. Brigadier General Mattis, a small TF 58 staff, and Marines from the 26th MEU (SOC) continued to conduct airfield security operations, detainee security operations and Sensitive Site Exploitation (SSE) missions from Kandahar Airport while planning and preparing for on-order combat missions.
The Commanding General tasked those staff members returning to Bahrain with collecting operational data, writing a command chronology, a classified narrative summary, and documenting the lessons learned during TF 58’s operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Pertinent documents were collected, cataloged by date, and then archived electronically and in binders. After appointing Major Michael Mahaney as the principal author, the TF 58 staff, liaison officers from the 15th and 26th MEUs, and a Marine Corps historian met daily to review the documents, discuss the events, and outline a plan for historical documentation. Minutes of the discussions were forwarded to the Commanding General and his staff at Kandahar, Afghanistan for comment.
This account is told from a TF 58 perspective. Its intent is to capture relevant operational data and present the information in a readable format that will contribute to future operations. Others will write the comprehensive histories of operations in southern Afghanistan, and higher, adjacent, and subordinate commands will certainly have their own stories to tell.