Don't Believe The Social Media Rumors: Camp Pendleton's 'Darkhorse Marines' Aren't Dying In Afghanistan

news
Marines with 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, discuss a plan of action for events the following day with each other at dusk during a Marine Corps Combat Readiness Evaluation at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., March 24 to April 4, 2017. A MCCRE is a large-scale exercise held to test Marines on their ability to complete a set of missions and evaluate how prepared they are for upcoming deployments. Marines with 3/5 are training for their upcoming deployment as part of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Justin Huffty)
Photo via DoD

Although thousands upon thousands of well-meaning Americans on Facebook and Twitter are asking people to pray for the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, the grunts aren’t suffering any casualties in Afghanistan. They’re home at Camp Pendleton, preparing to deploy to sea.


The latest hoax seems to have broken out on Facebook in late February before dying down in mid-March. It has come roaring back in recent days, however, triggering a flood of social-media support for the “Darkhorse” battalion that once suffered heavy losses in Afghanistan but isn’t actually in combat now.

“We are asking everyone to say a prayer for ‘Darkhorse’ 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines and their families. They are fighting it out in Afghanistan and have lost nine Marines in four days. Please repost this,” reads the typical message being circulated on social media.

As the rumors circulated in March and April, the battalion was training for a future deployment with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit. Between March 24 and April 4, for example, 3/5 Marines underwent a Marine Corps Combat Readiness Evaluation at Camp Pendleton.

This week, elements of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit have been participating in a Composite Unit Training Exercise — “COMPTUEX” — off the coast of Southern California aboard the Navy’s amphibious assault ship America.

The urban legend about 3/5 Marines currently suffering major combat losses in Afghanistan has roots in truth.

Deployed to Afghanistan’s restive Helmand Province in 2010-11, 3/5 Marines and the 1st Combat Engineers suffered 25 deaths and nearly 200 wounded. Some of the most brutal fighting was concentrated near the district of Sangin, triggering widespread support on the social media from well-wishers at the time.

After the Darkhorse Marines rotated home, calls for prayers for their safety continued to flare up in late 2012, both the summer and late winter of 2013, the summers of 2014 and 2015, late December of 2015 and then again two months ago, according to a San Diego Union-Tribune analysis of Facebook and Twitter feeds.

Twitter and Facebook followers often have demanded to know why the “mainstream media” or “MSM” refused to cover the old story, failing to realize that the Union-Tribune and other news outlets reported extensively about the Darkhorse battalion’s real deployment of 2010-11 in Afghanistan.

Internet rumor-slayer Snopes.com updated a special page on the Darkhorse dilemma on May 1, pointing to articles about the earlier deployment in the Union-Tribune and its sister paper the Los Angeles Times. Snopes rated the latest eruption of 3/5 prayer requests “outdated.”

———

©2017 The San Diego Union-Tribune. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Tech. Sgt. Ryan Cooper, 151st Security Forces Squadron, leads a team of security forces members as they clear a building during a simulated active shooter event October 15, 2019 at Roland R. Wright Air National Guard Base, Utah. (U.S. Air National Guard/Tech. Sgt. John Winn)

Security measures at U.S. military bases will be increased in the wake of the deadly shootings at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii and Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida.

In a message posted to Twitter, U.S. Northern Command, known as Northcom, said it has directed its installations to "immediately assess force protection measures and implement increased random security measures for their facilities."

Read More Show Less

The Washington Post has obtained confidential documents showing that top U.S. military officials have repeatedly lied to the American public about the war in Afghanistan, despite many having clear knowledge the effort is unwinnable.

Read More Show Less
Air Force personnel wait for a pallet of equipment to load on a C-17 Globemaster III at Sather Air Base, Iraq, on Jan. 30 2008 (Air Force/Tech. Sgt. Jeffrey Allen)

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Four Katyusha rockets struck a military base next to Baghdad International Airport on Monday wounding "six fighters", a statement from the military said.

Security forces found a rocket launcher and several rockets in a search of the area, the statement said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Read More Show Less

PENSACOLA, Fla. (Reuters) - U.S. investigators face mounting pressure on Monday to deliver answers on the motive that led a Saudi Air Force lieutenant to shoot and kill three people and wounded eight others at a U.S. Navy base in Pensacola, Florida.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, speaking at a Sunday evening press conference, said he was sure the gunman carried out an act of terrorism. He questioned whether it could have been prevented by better vetting of foreign military officers who train in the United States.

Read More Show Less

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian forces have entered Raqqa, the former de facto capital of the Islamic State caliphate, in one of the starkest examples yet of how Moscow has filled the vacuum created by President Donald Trump's decision to pull U.S. forces from northern Syria.

Read More Show Less