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Marines with 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, stand guard on the outside wall of the U.S. Consulate in Herat, Afghanistan Sept. 14. The Marines are currently guarding the U.S. Consulate following the Sept. 13 attack which caused significant damage to the building's infrastructure and left six insurgents dead. | Photo by Sgt. Bobby J. Yarbrough

Marines guarded U.S. Consulate in Herat following attacks

CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan – Within hours after the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Herat on Sept. 13, U.S. Marines in Helmand Province were mobilized as a quick-reaction force and assigned to guard the U.S. Consulate.

Marines with 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, flew to the city within four hours of the attack and served as a security detail until the responsibility was transferred to the U.S. Army.

The attack

Around 5:40 a.m., a flatbed truck filled with 800 pounds of homemade explosives pulled up to the front gates of the U.S. Consulate and detonated. Following the initial explosion, a van approached the front entrance and six insurgents exited the vehicle. Minutes later, the van also detonated.

Over the next two hours, insurgents attacked the U.S. Consulate with machine gun fire, small arms fire, and rocket propelled grenades. The Afghan National Security Forces and the building’s contracted security personnel fired back, killing all of the insurgents.

According to State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf the Consulate’s front gate was damaged; however, the Consulate’s interior compound was not breached.

Nine Afghans were killed in the attack, including eight consulate guards and one police officer. No U.S. personnel were wounded or killed in the exchange.

Cpl. Geoffrey Klein provides security as Marines with 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, and agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation search for evidence at the U.S. Consulate in Herat, Afghanistan Sept. 14. Insurgents detonated two vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices outside the front entrance to the U.S. Consulate and attempted to assault the building. Six insurgents were killed in the attack. Klein is an infantry Marine with 2/8. | Photo by Sgt. Bobby J. Yarbrough

Following the attack

The Marines maintained security around the building and assisted investigators from the Federal Bureau of Investigation in searching the grounds and surrounding areas for evidence linked to the attack.

Explosive ordnance disposal technicians and engineers with Combat Logistics Regiment 2 partnered with investigators to conduct post-blast analysis of the bombing sites while Marines with 2/8 searched through the debris to collect DNA samples and other possible evidence.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and Consulate General Jillian Burns visited the U.S. Consulate to commend the Marines for their role and told them they should be proud of what they had accomplished.

The attackers were “…defeated in just a few minutes,” said Carter. “Not only were they defeated, but there was an overwhelming and incredibly confident American, Afghan, and Coalition response — which included you — ready to deal with the situation.”

Burns thanked the Afghan National Security Forces and military units who assisted after the attack and said the Consulate remains focused on the future of Herat.

“Our mission has not changed—to strengthen ties between Afghanistan and the United States and to work with Afghans and the international community for Afghanistan’s political, social and economic development,” said Burns.

Lance Cpl. Peter Petrapolis provides security as Marines with 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, and agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation search for evidence at the U.S. Consulate in Herat, Afghanistan Sept. 14. Insurgents detonated two vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices outside the front entrance to the U.S. Consulate and attempted to assault the building. Six insurgents were killed in the attack. Petrapolis is an infantry Marine with 2/8. | Photo by Sgt. Bobby J. Yarbrough

Rapid Response Force

The Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) has long provided the United States with a broad spectrum of response options when U.S. and allied interests have been threatened or require critical response.

According to Maj. Gen Lee Miller, the commander of Regional Command Southwest, the rapid mobilization of both the II Marine Aircraft Wing and II Marine Expeditionary Force proved the Marine Corps’ ability to deploy a powerful force on short notice to support real world crisis.

“Our primary mission is to train, advise and assist the Afghan National Security Forces,” said Miller. “But when Americans are threatened the MAGTF is ready to respond immediately and in force.”

Story by Sgt. Bobby Yarbrough, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Fwd), Regional Command Southwest. Visit Regional Command Southwest on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/regionalcommandsouthwest

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