Military Order of the Purple Heart

Texas Capital Chapter 1919 Austin, Texas

 

KEN KASSNER

 

 

 


U.S. Marine Corps Seal

3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion (LAR)

Distintinctive Unit Insignia


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 Reconnaissance Battalion.  Leading his Marines in combat in Iraq in 2009, he and his battalion are currently deployed to Afghanistan 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 Iraq.  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 battle space.  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 level.

 

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 Helmand Province—one of 34 provinces in Afghanistan and one of the most heavily contested regions between NATO and Taliban forces in the country.  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 groups.  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 membership.  I also greatly appreciate the opportunity given to me by the Patriotic Bulletin 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 www.i-mef.usmc.mil/div/3lar.

For letters or packages to Marines, please address your correspondence to:

 

(Marine’s Name)

H&S Company

3d LAR Bn

1st Marine Div (Fwd)

Unit 41695FPO AP 96427-1695

 

 

 

In patriotism,

Ken Kassner

Lt. Col. of Marines

 

 Semper fidelis

The Marine Corps’ motto.  Latin for “always faithful”

 


Afghan Security Forces

Ancient Castle Ruins

Camels Grazing in Helmand Valley

Country Map

Helmand Provincial Map

Helmand River Valley

IED Hunting

LAVs on Patrol

Lt. Col. Ken Kassner

Rig District Governor with Kassner

Ruins along the Helmand River

Swimming the Helmand River

Raising Ol' Glory at the battalion's command post


TOP PHOTO

 

LT. COL. KENNETH R. KASSNER

CO, 3rd LAR

IN IRAQ 2009


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