Camp Dwyer is a United States Marine Corps installation and airfield located in the Gamir district of the Helmand River Valley in Afghanistan. The base was originally established as a Forward Operating Base (FOB) to combat insurgent activity in the Helmand Valley, a hotbed of terrorist activity. Though initially intended to only be a temporary FOB, the strategic value of Camp Dwyer became quickly apparent and it became a more permanent installation. The transition to permanency was eased by mutual agreement between the governments of the United States and Afghanistan.
Camp Dwyer is set up to be a fully functioning Marine Corps outpost that can work in conjunction with Afghan security forces to patrol the dangerous Helmand River Valley. The Helmand area of Afghanistan is often affectionately referred to as “Hell Man” by American soldiers and marines in reference to the unrelenting weather conditions with summer temperatures reaching peaks of 120 degrees and higher. The area around Camp Dwyer is also subject to unforgiving sand storms that can come on without warning and reduce visibility to zero in a matter of seconds. The unpredictable weather, coupled with the rugged terrain makes the area of the Helmand River Valley relatively uninhabited, which lends to its preference for use by insurgent forces.
The primary mission of Camp Dwyer is to secure the area of southern Helmand Province from Taliban and insurgent activities in the area, in accordance with the United States mission in Afghanistan. Additionally, marines at Camp Dwyer are tasked with proving logistical, air, ground and communication support to United States and Coalition forces in the area, along with the Afghanistan Boarder Police and security forces.
In addition to combat operations, marines at Camp Dwyer have worked to help stem the flow of drug trafficking in Afghanistan and have played a role in shutting down child trafficking operations. All of these operations put the marines of Camp Dwyer directly into harm’s way; as a result, it has experienced over 400 casualties throughout the course of the war. The names of fallen Marines and soldiers are remembered in a makeshift memorial near the entrance of the base.
There are new permanent structures at Camp Dwyer, everything is housed in temporary tents and trailers. The ability to rearrange the entire structure of the base new units has allowed the base to expand and contract to absorb new units quickly. Camp Dwyer has seen four different Marine Corps Combat Aviation Brigades, three Marine Crops Regimental Combat Teams, Naval Construction Battalion sailors and troops from 2nd Battalion 8th Marines.
Despite being so desolate, Camp Dwyer does have some amenities for its Marines. Air conditioning was installed in tents and trailers to combat the summer heat waves and small PX was erected. The base does not get phone reception, but it does have satellite internet access, a laundry facility, showers and a gym. Additionally, it houses a small post office that allows marines to send and receive mail.
The 31st Combat Support Hospital at Camp Dwyer treats injured Marines and Afghans in the southern Helmand Province area. The hospital is staffed by Navy doctors and corpsmen, allowing the facility to run a three level triage system and treat many life threatening injuries on site. Having an airfield directly next to the hospital allows injured Marines to be treated immediately and have saved a number of American and Afghan lives.