Marines of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit and 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit were among the first forces into Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. The Marines were sent to Afghanistan to advise and assist with maneuvers when needed. As part of a surge of more than 30,000 US and Coalition forces, the Marines were sent to Helmand province in Afghanistan to fight the Taliban and al Qaeda. The Marines conducted large-scale offensive operations throughout Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. As part of Task Force Leatherneck, the Marines served as lead for the multinational ground combat troops.
In mid-December 2001, Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit captured Kandahar Airport and converted it into one of the first coalition command centers in the country. In June 2009, 7,000 Marines with the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade deployed to Afghanistan in an effort to improve security and began Operation Strike of the Sword the next month. At the start of 2010, Marines lead Operation Moshtarak, the largest military operation since the beginning of the war in Afghanistan and reclaimed cities across southern Afghanistan, including Marjah a city that was controlled by the Taliban. Marines continue to fight the Taliban and train Afghan soldiers.