KENNETH R. KASSNER
Patriot, Chapter 1919
Marine Corps, IRAQ
**LtCol Ken Kassner, USMC—a native Texan and periodic contributor to the
Patriot Bulletin—was twice wounded in Iraq in support
of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM.
In July 2008, he assumed command of 3d Light Armored
Leading his Marines in combat in Iraq in 2009, he and his battalion are currently
in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.**
My fellow Patriots,
In my last correspondence (October
2009), I wrote in the Bulletin that my Marines and I had recently completed
another tour of duty in Iraq in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM (OIF).
By war’s end for the Marine Corps, 3d Light Armored Reconnaissance
(LAR) Battalion—the WOLFPACK—had deployed five times to
Iraq, conducting combat operations throughout Al Anbar
and Ninewa Provinces.
To be sure, the battalion distinguished itself multiple times in
such battles as the initial invasion in 2003, the assault to clear the city
of Fallujah in 2004, the securing of the
Euphrates River Valley
from 2005 to 2008, and the interdiction of insurgent forces in northwestern Iraq near Sinjar
and Tal Afar.
As the former Battalion Executive Officer (XO) and now Commanding
Officer (CO), it was clearly my honor to participate in three of the five
combat deployments with the WOLFPACK to
Although a young battalion relative to other Marine Corps
units—elements of 3d LAR Battalion were activated in 1983—the WOLFPACK is
already steeped in a rich heritage and proud tradition as one of the Corps’
premier fighting forces.
Today, 3d LAR Battalion finds
itself at war again.
This time, however, the battalion has deployed to
Helmand Province, Afghanistan,
on its inaugural tour of duty in south Asia.
In November 2010, the WOLFPACK assumed operational control of its
expansive battle space in southern Helmand Province,
serving under the famed 1st Marine Division—the BLUE DIAMOND.
The region here is characterized by expansive deserts, a mountain
range called Kahn Neshin Gahr, the Helmand River that serpentines throughout
the battalion’s battlespace, and heavily vegetated areas and farmlands along
both banks of the river that collectively make up the Helmand River valley.
With the winter months upon us, the temperatures continue to drop
into the low 30s, but the blankets of snow, which distinguish the mountains
of Afghanistan, aren’t expected to canvass us here in the southwest region
of the country.
Nonetheless, as a native Texan who was born in San Antonio and
lived for several years in Coupland, temperatures in the 20s and 30s feel
like the arctic tundra of the North Pole.
Our mission in the southern
Helmand River valley is to interdict the Taliban and insurgent forces that
transit this area and disrupt enemy and criminal activities throughout the
Indeed, it’s a challenging assignment, but one clearly suitable to
a light armored reconnaissance unit, which possesses the organic
maneuverability, firepower, mobility, and combat experiences to complete any
of its assigned tasks.
In close partnership with the Afghan National Security Forces
(ANSF), the Marines and Sailors of 3d LAR Battalion continue to protect the
local populace from insurgent threat and intimidation, as well as help set
the conditions for eventual control of this area by the Government of the
Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA).
Progress in this region has been
steady, and many great efforts to produce a more stabilized region have been
achieved by the previous LAR units that have operated here.
Now it’s the WOLFPACK’s turn, and the battalion is clearly trained
and ready to advance the stability in Helmand’s Rig District to the next
The Marine Corps, mostly in an
advisory role, has maintained a presence in Afghanistan since the war began
here in 2001 following the attack on our homeland in September of that year.
However, the Corps’ greatest presence and engagement in the war
began in late spring 2009, when a Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) of
several thousand Marines and Sailors deployed to
Province—one of 34 provinces in Afghanistan and
one of the most heavily contested regions between NATO and Taliban forces in
The more populated cities and villages in this province include
the capital at Lashkah Gar and—running north to south—Musa Qala, Now Zad,
Sangin, Gereshk, Garmsir, and Khan Neshin, which lies in 3d LAR Battalion’s
area of operations.
Similar to our experiences in Iraq, the local
populace is comprised of multiple ethnicities, cultures, and language
dialects—mostly Pashtun and Baluch, but also Tajik and a few other minority
To be sure, such diversity in the region keeps the operational environment
quite dynamic and, when combined with the historical sites in the area, such
as the ruins of former castles and other settlements along the Helmand
River, certainly enriches the area.
In closing, I want to again
express my gratitude to my fellow Patriots of the Military Order of the
Purple Heart (MOPH) for your service to your country and continued support
of my Marines and me.
Indeed, it’s a privilege to stand in the ranks of the Chapter 1919
I also greatly appreciate the opportunity given to me by the
staff, particularly Mr. Milton Carr, to periodically send you my updates
from Iraq and now Afghanistan.
For additional news
about 3d LAR Battalion’s combat experiences in Afghanistan,
I invite you to peruse our unit’s website at
For letters or packages to Marines, please address
your correspondence to:
3d LAR Bn
1st Marine Div (Fwd)
Unit 41695FPO AP 96427-1695
Lt. Col. of Marines
The Marine Corps’ motto.
Latin for “always faithful”