A Retrospective on the USMC in Helmand Province: “Disrupting and Dismantling a Facilitation Node”



As the US engagement in Afghanistan winds down, and approach to the future is sorted out, Second Marine Division (Forward) has provided interviews with the commanding general of 2nd Marine Division (Forward) which highlight the challenges and successes the Marines and sailors of the division made during their tenure as the ground combat element of the Marine Air Ground Task Force and Regional Command (Southwest) during the last year.

Here Brig. Gen. Lewis Craparotta discusses the closure of insurgent smuggling routes in southern Helmand. Craparotta also delves into disruption and clearing operations, which took place prior to the insurgents’ spring offensive during the early months of 2011

Brigadier General Craparotta is currently serving as Commanding General, 2D Marine Division (Forward). He is a native of South Windsor, Connecticut and graduated from the University of Vermont in December 1982 with a BA in Political Science. He was commissioned in May 1983. He has attended The Basic School, the Infantry Officer Course, Amphibious Warfare School, Army Command and General Staff College, and the Naval War College. He has also completed the Marine Corps Aerial Observer Course, Army Airborne School and the Armed Forces Staff College.

His service in the Operating Forces includes: Platoon Commander and Company Executive Officer with 1st Battalion, 7th Marines (June 1984 – September 1986); Company Commander and Operations Officer with 1st Battalion, 9th Marines (August 1992-September 1994); Executive Officer for 1st Battalion, 1st Marines (October 1994 – January 1995); S-4 Officer for 1st Marine Regiment (January 1995 – June 1995); Division Inspector for 1st Marine Division (August 1999 – August 2000); Executive Officer for 1st Marine Regiment (September 2000 – April 2001); Commanding Officer for 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines (April 2001 – June 2003); Commanding Officer for 1st Marine Regiment (June 2006 – June 2009); Assistant Division Commander, 2D Marine Division (July 2009 – July 2010).

His service outside the Operating Forces includes duty as a tactics instructor at The Basic School from October 1986 to April 1987 and as an instructor at IOC from April 1987 through June 1990. From July 1991 to July 1992 he was assigned as an advisor to the Royal Saudi Marines and served in this capacity in Jubail, Saudi Arabia. Between August 1996 and June 1999 he was assigned to Headquarters, Special Operations Command Europe (SOCEUR) in Stuttgart, Germany. From July 2004 through May 2006 he was assigned to the Joint Staff.


As General Amos, USMC Commandant, noted late last year:

The number of Marines in Helmand province will drop “markedly” in 2012, and the role of those who stay will shift from countering the insurgency to training and advising Afghan security forces.

The change suggests an early exit from Afghanistan for the Marine Corps even as the prospects for solidifying their recent successes are uncertain.

“Am I OK with that? The answer is `yes,’” Amos said. “We can’t stay in Afghanistan forever.”

“Will it work? I don’t know. But I know we’ll do our part.”


2nd Marine Division