Afghanistan, briefing, Marine, thumbnail

The day before the first mission, Capt. Michael Gagnon briefs his Marines at Patrol Base Alcatraz, Afghanistan, Oct. 20, on the plan to construct a helicopter-landing zone for a special operations outpost in the Helmand River valley. Gagnon, a native of Oxford, Mass., commands a team of roughly 20 men dubbed “Task Force Nomad.” Over the next several weeks, the task force will construct or improve helicopter landing zones along the Helmand River valley in southwestern Afghanistan.