OIF Update, Sept. 4, 2009: Iraq-based US Marine Unit Undergoes Significant Reduction in Size
Dispatches from the Front:
CAMP AL TAQADDUM, Iraq, Sept. 4, 2009 -- Since 2004, a 4,000-person Marine Logistics Group has served as the logistics combat element of the Marine Air Ground Task Force operating in Al Anbar province, Iraq. But as of Sept. 1, a regiment-sized element, which is about half the size of the group, uncased their military colors for the first time to assume the responsibilities of providing logistics support to the Marines still in Iraq.
The change is a significant step for the Marine Corps as it shows substantial progress in their responsible drawdown from Iraq. The Marines’ mission in Iraq is scheduled to be completed by spring of 2010.
Under the heat of the Iraqi sun, members of the 2nd MLG (Forward) headquarters element and guests, to include Maj. Gen. R. T. Tryon, Multi National Force - West commanding general, gathered aboard Camp Al Taqaddum for a ceremony to recognize the transfer of authority from Brig. Gen. Juan G. Ayala, commanding general for 2nd MLG (Fwd), to Col. Vincent A. Coglianese, commanding officer for the newly designated Combat Logistics Regiment 27 (Forward). Coglianese will be leading the logistics element of the MAGTF in completing the remainder of its planned year-long deployment.
When a logistics command element first stood up in support of the MAGTF mission in Iraq in 2003, the MLG (Fwd), or the 1st Force Service Support Group as it was called before 2005, consisted of four subordinate battalions of about 1,000 Marines and Sailors each. The standard makeup of the group included an engineer battalion, two direct support battalions - one in support of the Marine units operating in eastern Al Anbar, and the other focused on units working in the west, and a general support battalion in support of all Marine Corps units within MNF-W.
For five years, this lineage of Marine logistics units has provided the ground units, and their own units, the support they needed to carry out day-to-day operations.
“[Marine logisticians] continued to sustain our forces at the outer edges of the battlefield and the edges of this empire,” remarked Ayala during the ceremony. “They’ve been on duty in Al Anbar and Ninewa provinces, in Basra, Waleed, Diyala supporting those [Regimental Combat Teams], Army [Brigade Combat Teams] and the combat advisors.
“All have collectively convoyed hundreds of thousands of miles transporting and escorting tons of critical supplies such as fuel, spare parts, ammunition, mail, personnel and equipment over the same dangerous and [improvised explosive device]-laden roads which our ground combat element operates on,” he continued.
The newly established CLR-27 (Fwd) will consist of a headquarters battalion; a direct support, reserve battalion - Combat Logistics Battalion 46; and a general support battalion, 2nd Maintenance Battalion, home-based out of Camp Lejeune, N.C.
“Today serves as another success story in our nation’s involvement in [Operation Iraqi Freedom],” expressed Coglianese during his closing remarks. “The improved security situation we see today is a direct result of countless deployments made by our U.S. service members over the last six years.”
Marine units serving throughout Al Anbar and Ninewa provinces have and continue to return to their home station without replacements. The reduction has enabled the logistics combat element to continue their service support mission while allowing them to also work towards getting all Marine gear and equipment out of Iraq.
With supply records showing the Marine Corps still has nearly 95,000 pieces of equipment to remove from Iraq, the Marines prepare to conduct the largest drawdown of their recent operational history.
(Report from a Multinational Corps Iraq news release.)
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