In 2010, after more than nine years of service, David Anderson’s Marine Corps contract ended. He looked into transitioning into the intel field or returning to college to finish his degree.

A few months later, he learned that 1st Battalion, 23rd Marines was being activated for operations in Afghanistan. They were to provide security at Camp Leatherneck and at combat outposts in Helmand. Anderson re-enlisted and joined weapons company as a platoon sergeant. However, he was selected to split away from the main body to join the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan and was sent with a team of 13 Marines to a small outpost academy in Herat province. There he worked with Italian Carabinieri and Afghan instructors and staff to train Afghan National Civil Order Police cadets and prepare them for roles in riot control, paramilitary response teams, and as police sergeants.

This is his story.

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February 2011. Security position overlook the academy at Adraskan. The environment outside the compound was austere, high desert plains midway between the central mountains and the Iranian border.

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March 2011. Our team of 13 Marines were a small contingent at the compound. There were several Polish military police, around 60 Italian Carabinieri, and the Afghan cadre of instructors who did the bulk of the police training while we focused on basic combat skills while also supporting the other classes.

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April 2011. Weather was variable. In March and April, we would go from 85-degree days to this in the span of a week. These were the buildings that the Marines and Polish instructors lived in, the Carabinieri having their own walled off area adjacent to it. Over the barriers on the left were cadet housing and a snowball fight erupted over the fence.

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May 2011. At their graduations, the ANCOP cadets would demonstrate a riot-control scenario in addition to driving, martial arts, and arrest procedures. The cadets were immediately promoted to sergeants on graduation and were expected to be able to serve as crowd control, SWAT, desk sergeants, and as surge capacity to trouble areas.

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Summer 2011. ANCOP cadets learned basic shooting form and stances before being allowed to live fire on the range. When we arrived, the cadets were shooting rifles at distances only up to 40 meters, and we worked to up the curriculum to include distances out to 100 meters and incorporate basic movement and cover tactics. This took a lot of time.

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Summer 2011. In addition to the cadets, the Marines also trained the local security forces, personnel security details, and patrol officers. We were a mix of infantry, communications, and other military occupations, but even the basic Marine combat skills instruction were in high demand.

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Summer 2011. We would get outside the compound to do local security patrols with local Afghan police and also to set up ranges for machine guns and RPG instruction. We trained, primarily, the Afghan instructors with the intent that they would bring their best shooting cadets outside for more advanced instruction.

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July 2011. Two of the best guys I worked with in Afghanistan were our interpreters. They worked extremely hard to help us with day-to-day work and they were our main go-betweens with the Afghan cadre staff and leadership. Our job would have been impossible without them. I was really happy when they were both able to make it out of Afghanistan, and knowing them has made me care a lot more about the plight of the many interpreters and other personnel that have been left behind in bad situations.

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July 2011. We managed to relax in the evenings and had a fair amount of downtime, if nowhere to go. Gas-mask ping pong was a favorite. We played football on the helipad. We also held movie nights for the Afghan cadets, using a projector and speakers jury rigged to a truck for power and projecting on the side of the white-painted chow hall.

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August 2011. Flying away from the Adraskan valley and back to Herat to wait for another flight to Kabul and home.

Email us your deployment photos with a short description to be featured on our Instagram @MyDeployment.