September 7th, 2009
11:00 PM ET

Photo dispatch from Marine Camp Leatherneck

Program Note: We're reporting live from Afghanistan tonight. Anderson is on the ground with U.S. troops in the region, Dr. Sanjay Gupta reports from a hospital in the war zone and Michael Ware is live from Kabul. Tonight 10 p.m. ET.

Charlie Moore

AC360° Senior Broadcast Producer

The first thing you do after deplaning at Marine Camp Leatherneck is drive – for awhile. The place is sprawling. You pass the contractor trucks bringing fuel, the raw, open desert field where more barracks are being constructed, the huge gravel mountain that will soon be spread across the expanding camp to help keep down the blowing sands.

There are other massive U.S. military bases around the world of course, but maybe none as impressive as this one. There are around 11,000 Marines based out of Leatherneck, and the entire place was scratched from the desert only about eight months ago. It’s now the launchpad for what U.S. military leaders consider the last, best hope to gain control of the southern part of this country from the Taliban.

The Marines are confident they can do it. Yesterday we talked to the Brigadier General Larry Nicholson, the commanding General of the Marine Expeditionary Brigade headquartered here. BG Nicholson says he’s too busy to pay attention to new polls saying the majority of Americans no longer support the mission here.

He doesn’t think of this fight as being eight-years-old, but instead just over two months. Indeed, it was 63 days ago when the surge of Marines arrived here. He says the new strategy of engaging the Afghan population – turning them against the Taliban – is already working. The people of Afghanistan have seen war for 30 years, he says, and they’re tired of it. They want the peace and stability a country without the Taliban can bring.

To execute the new strategy, Marines are constantly deploying from Leatherneck to smaller forward operating bases and combat outposts. Super Stallion helicopters come in and out of the camp at a relentless pace, either ferrying Marines to the remote reaches of the country, or bringing them back to Leatherneck where they’ll go out again in just a couple of days.

Our team spent the night here and we’re now waiting to depart Leatherneck for an operating base further south. As we waited to leave this morning, we had a few down hours.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/09/07/ac.afghan2.jpg width=292 height=320]

Some read to pass the time, while others rest up for what we’re expecting – and hoping – will be a Marines-eye-view of this conflict from the remote, front lines.

We’re sharing a helicopter with the 2nd recon Marine platoon that is going to a different location. To make sure we get off at the right spot, the logistics team draws the initials of our destination on our hands with a Sharpie.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/09/07/ac.afghan1.jpg width=292 height=320]

It’s a 30-minute ride to our base, and assuming we get off at the right spot, we hope you get a chance to watch the coverage this week.

Filed under: Afghanistan • Charlie Moore
soundoff (70 Responses)
  1. Ken Talbert

    Anderson, keep up the great job, stay safe, and say hello to Lt. Col. Truax, 8th MEB

    September 8, 2009 at 11:14 am |
  2. Megan

    I'm not going to tell you to be safe, Anderson, because (since you're alive) I'm reasonably certain you learned the value of this at some point in your career already.

    I will tell you that I am watching this week's coverage while hyperventilating into a paper bag, which I usually reserve for accidentally viewing FOX News.

    September 8, 2009 at 11:00 am |
  3. Nancy Faxon


    Thanks for bringing the amazing task that our Marines are doing in Afghanistan... into the living rooms of America this week. Listen to the guys and gals (Marines) who are helping to keep you and your crew safe... they're incredibly good at what they do! If you get a chance, say howdy to my husband, Col Al Faxon. We (his family) miss him in Vermont, we're enormously proud of his service and we pray for him constantly.

    Semper Fi,
    Nancy Faxon

    September 8, 2009 at 10:57 am |
  4. Douglas

    be safe men! you are in in our prayers!

    September 8, 2009 at 10:56 am |
  5. Paula

    Be safe AC, looking forward to all the reports this week. I am hoping to see a glimpse of my son who is with 1/5 WPNS.

    September 8, 2009 at 10:26 am |
  6. Becca B.

    Happy Anniversery AC360 and crew

    September 8, 2009 at 10:07 am |
  7. jdusmc

    Nice to see a major reporter covering a major story. At least to those of us that have a son or daughter over there. My son was one of the pilots that flew you into Jakur.....good coverage

    September 8, 2009 at 10:04 am |
  8. Tom Kelley

    Anderson my grandson is a L/CPL at the base you are at.I hope you both come home safe.Thanks for giving us back home a look at what our brave Marines are going through.Speaking as a Viet Nam vet I think the more we see and the more we know the better off we are.

    September 8, 2009 at 9:43 am |
  9. pete

    thanks anderson, my son is stationed in camp leatherneck, thanks cnn, thank you anderson and your crew , I now know the conditions in which all those MARINES are living in, GOD bless America and all of our MARINES out there!

    September 8, 2009 at 9:40 am |
  10. paige whitley

    My husband is at Leatherneck as well. I told him to keep an eye out for you. Last deployment he saw Geraldo and made some funny comments about his hair and mustache. It's always fun to hear the guys coverage, of your coverage.

    September 8, 2009 at 9:33 am |
  11. Brittany Pursley

    Thank you for going over there and showing everyone how bad it really is. My husband is over there right now fighting with 1/5. Stay safe, I will be watching everynight.

    September 8, 2009 at 9:25 am |
  12. Cindy Richardson

    Thank you so much for reporting on this. My son is one of the Marines there now.

    This report brings it home for everyone!!!!!!!!!!

    September 8, 2009 at 9:13 am |
  13. Jenny

    Anderson – Stay Safe to you and your crew. Love Anderson360. You're the best!

    September 8, 2009 at 8:20 am |
  14. Sun

    God bless all our troops and Anderson!

    September 8, 2009 at 8:03 am |
  15. Maj Brie Walker, USMC

    Mr. Cooper,

    Just wanted to say that it was a pleasure to fly you out here in Afghanistan in our helicopter. I hope you have a safe stay out here.

    September 8, 2009 at 6:51 am |
  16. Harsha

    Hey cool pics...If you can get some frontline pics..please post it...Take care and be safe..cheers!!!

    September 8, 2009 at 5:14 am |
  17. Valerie Falcon

    Thank you for doing this coverage Anderson.....my husband is a Navy Corpsman with this group.......so thank you. I look forward to your coverage and the world getting a glimpse of what our troops are doing for the US. I pray they know they are not forgotten....God Bless you for doing this and most defenitely God bless our troops...we love you!!

    September 7, 2009 at 9:08 pm |
  18. Maryam

    Anderson, you are one of the best. I admire you!!!

    September 7, 2009 at 9:06 pm |
  19. daniel

    please do take care of yourself and be careful Cooper.

    September 7, 2009 at 9:02 pm |
  20. corvedacosta

    gr8 preview

    September 7, 2009 at 8:54 pm |
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