Latest group leaves on one-year deployment

Published: Monday, February 4, 2013 at 05:05 PM.

However, the Marines will be in Afghanistan as an expected drawdown of American troops in 2014 nears, adding another element to the mission.

“I think what makes this time unique is the focus is going to be the emphasis on the Afghan army and setting them up for success,” Bajus said. “When we started in 2009, we were in the buildup phase. And then 2011, there was force projection and taking it to the enemy, and now this year when we relieve 3rd MAW, we’re going to continue what they’ve been doing which is setting up the Afghan army and the Afghan government for success.

“We’ll kind of take a back role and provide assistance for Afghanistan and their government and their armed forces. It’s a unique mission, a little bit different than what we’ve done in the past, but the Afghanis have done a great job taking over, especially where we are working with the Marine Corps and the UK forces. We have also been working with some Georgian forces as well. It’s a big team effort across the board.”

Strother, Rothgeb and Vilca are three of more veteran Marines deploying, and had some advice for the younger ones.

“There are going to be some long days and long nights,” Strother said. “Make sure you stay in contact with your family. Keep spirits up. Keep morale up.”

“I tell them to keep their spirits high and to have a good communication base with their family before they leave,” Rothgeb said. “That way it’s not like a big shock to them when they’re gone. It’s hard to say how people are going to react on deployment. I tell them to just keep their morale up.”

“I would tell them to keep their head down and to do their best,” Vilca said. “Do the best you can out there in combat and you will succeed and make everybody proud and happy.”

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