Face of Defense: Motivated Marine Succeeds in Afghanistan

CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan — Marine Corps Cpl. Austin Bar­ton of Charleston, S.C., keeps his “ear to the ground” here as he mon­i­tors ene­my activ­i­ty to inform and safe­guard his fel­low ser­vice mem­bers.

Marine Corps Cpl. Austin Bar­ton is the com­bat oper­a­tions cen­ter watch chief in the intel­li­gence sec­tion for 2nd Marine Divi­sion in Afghanistan’s Hel­mand province.
U.S. Marine Corps pho­to by Cpl. Tom­my Bel­le­garde
Click to enlarge

Bar­ton serves as the com­bat oper­a­tions cen­ter watch chief with the 2nd Marine Division’s intel­li­gence sec­tion here, ana­lyz­ing activ­i­ty in the division’s area of oper­a­tions and brief­ing the intel­li­gence sec­tion. He also acts as a liai­son to ground com­man­ders.

“I focus on what is going on in the bat­tle space on a con­stant basis — where the ene­my is, where they are attack­ing,” Bar­ton explained. “I have to ana­lyze that and pro­vide [an] oper­a­tional pic­ture to the intel­li­gence sec­tion. While doing that, I also pro­vide an intel­li­gence pic­ture to the oper­a­tions side.”

Bar­ton was rec­og­nized as his battalion’s non­com­mis­sioned offi­cer of the 3rd quar­ter for fis­cal 2011, but he had built a rep­u­ta­tion for being a stel­lar Marine before deploy­ing to Afghanistan in Feb­ru­ary, said Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Richard Pin­ner, the col­lec­tions chief for the division’s intel­li­gence sec­tion.

Know­ing this, Pin­ner said, Barton’s super­vi­sors want­ed him to assume high-pro­file tasks and respon­si­bil­i­ties typ­i­cal­ly reserved for much high­er-rank­ing Marines.

“He was put in the com­bat oper­a­tions cen­ter, which is not a desir­able bil­let; how­ev­er, it’s some­thing that has to get done,” said Pin­ner, who hails from Pen­saco­la, Fla. “He was per­form­ing the duties and tasks of a lieu­tenant.”

Bar­ton, 22, has served in the Marine Corps for five years. He is a for­mer rifle­man who switched to the intel­li­gence field when he re-enlist­ed. His infantry expe­ri­ence, Bar­ton said, has giv­en him an abil­i­ty to see through the eyes of Marines on the ground with­out actu­al­ly being there, a skill that pre­pared him well for the intel­li­gence field.

“Under­stand­ing what [the infantry­man] is look­ing for and under­stand­ing what they’re see­ing on the bat­tle­field with­out actu­al­ly being there aids you sig­nif­i­cant­ly when try­ing to pro­vide an intel­li­gence pic­ture,” he said. “[It] real­ly helps, because you have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to speak from both sides and bring that mid­dle ground when ideas don’t meet.”

Barton’s job pro­fi­cien­cy and lead­er­ship abil­i­ty are well known in the intel­li­gence sec­tion, said Marine Corps 1st Lt. Joseph Tim­o­teo, the division’s intel­li­gence oper­a­tions cen­ter watch offi­cer.

“Cor­po­ral Bar­ton is the most intense and enthu­si­as­tic Marine that I’ve met in the [intel­li­gence sec­tion],” said Tim­o­teo, a Philadel­phia native. “The longer he’s been here, the more enthu­si­as­tic he’s become about his job. Then he push­es that off on oth­ers, and it’s refresh­ing to see.”

Bar­ton said his dri­ve to per­form comes from his love of being a Marine in what he believes is the pin­na­cle of any Marine’s career — being deployed.

“My moti­va­tion comes from being out here [in Afghanistan],” he said. “Being deployed is the great­est part of [a Marine’s] career, because that’s when [they] are real­ly affect­ing the rest of the world.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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