Marine Cpl. Scott Atwell and Sgt. Rob Dawson are currently stationed at a base in Kandahar Province training and getting ready to be sent "forward" to conduct counter insurgency operations.

Here are their latest dispatches:

• From Cpl. Atwell:

How are you feeling about moving off of the relative safety of a big base and into a new phase of your operations where it could be more dangerous?
I’m looking forward to getting off of the base and start operating. I haven’t had a real sense of accomplishment while I’ve been in the Marines and I’m looking forward to actually doing something and make some sort of an impact on this country and the war.

How often do you call or e-mail home?
I call home once a week and call my girlfriend twice a week. I don’t get to e-mail that much just because it’s such a hassle to drag my computer all the way to the Internet center.

What are some funny behind the scenes types of moments you share with friends?
Probably the funniest moments I’ve had so far is just at night when we’re all bored and trying to kill time. My buddy Sanders found an old medieval-looking helmet, and grabbed a trash can lid and a broom stick and started running around acting like a Spartan. It was hilarious.

Have you interacted with locals and why are you needed in southern Afghanistan?
We haven’t operated yet so I haven’t talked to any locals. From what I hear we are needed here. The Taliban rules these people with an iron fist sort of speak, and I think the good people here just need someone to stand up to them. I think I speak for everyone here when I say were anxious to start doing something.

• From Sgt. Dawson:

How are you feeling about moving off of the relative safety of a big base and into a new phase of your operations where it could be more dangerous?
To be honest can’t wait to leave the base if only for the sole purpose to conduct combat operations and get done what we came here to do. I don’t need the security of the base to make me safe, it’s the Marines around me that makes me feel safe no matter where we go.

How often do you call home and talk to or email your family?
I get to talk to my wife and parents pretty often, due to the phone center being on south camp or main side of the runway here. The only thing that we don’t have access to is e-mails and the Internet on our side of the base.

Why do you feel you are needed in Afghanistan?
From what we’ve been told and can see in the news yes we need to be here to break down the insurgence and wipe them from this country and make it a better place for these locals to raise their families and live a secure lifestyle. We have not left the wire (friendly lines) to actually see all of this in person, but when we do get to see it in person the Taliban will not be happy and the local populist will feel a lot better that we are here to help.

Here are their first dispatches:

• From Cpl. Atwell:

My typical day so far in Afghanistan:
"I wake up, go on a run to acclimatize to the altitude. We'll have some classes about what to expect in the near future. We are also training for upcoming missions, making sure everyone knows the job he has to do and can do it well. Also a lot of listening to my iPod and watching DVDs, killing time."

My first impressions:
"The first thing I thought when I stepped off the plane was that it reminded me of Nevada near Las Vegas — it's nothing but sand and mountains."

What I miss about home:
"Of course I'm missing my family/girlfriend and just how easy it is in the States to do the little things like make a phone call, go to the gym, take a shower. I still do these things it's just more difficult to do them over here. Also beer (Sam Adams)"

The biggest surprise:
"How hot it is already. Before we left they gave us tons of cold-weather gear and I was a surprised to find out that we don't need it right now."

• From Sgt. Dawson:

My typical day so far in Afghanistan:
"Our typical day starts at 05:30 in the morning. We conduct a morning clean up and get accountability of Marines and gear, then we go to chow which isn't that bad, then we conduct P.T. (Physical Training) helping acclimatize to the climate and terrain. We also conduct retention training (standard procedures) for the upcoming operations. Then at about 4:30 pm we are able to take a break and rest for the next day."

My first impressions:
"The first impressions were not really bad ones. The berthing tents (where we sleep) are a lot better than in Iraq and the weather right now isn't that bad: Still warm in the day and getting warmer, but cool at night for now. There's a lot of rugged terrain, just can't wait to start working so we can be on our way back home."

What I miss about home:
"I miss my wife most of all, even though we have been able to talk frequently. I also miss my dog, Mr. Bear, my family and an ICE COLD BEER!"