CAMP KOREAN VILLAGE, Iraq --
The isolated region located in western Iraq known as Camp Korean Village is no longer in the hands of Combat Logistics Battalion 7, 2nd Marine Logistics Group (Forward), but is now under the helm of the Army’s 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command.
The change in leadership for the camp’s operations was marked by a transfer of authority ceremony, July 11, at Camp Korean Village’s dining facility annex. The transfer comes at a time when troops in Iraq are redefining their role, while simultaneously diminishing their presence and footprint in the country. Since arriving in Iraq nearly four months ago, CLB-7 knew they would eventually be the last Marine battalion to have control of the base and thus began the clean up and equipment consolidation to prepare the base for transfer.
Beginning in March, Capt. Natalie Trogus, the outgoing camp commandant for CKV, and her Marines have worked around the clock in order to meet the deadline for the camp’s transfer.
“I was told I would be the camp commandant 24 hours before I had to assume the duty, and I had 45 Marines to take over and accomplish tasks that were normally completed by a battalion,” she said. “On top of that, I had to learn the ins and outs of dealing with contractors, a job neither my Marines nor I had ever dealt with before coming to KV. But we made it all work out in the end.”
Trogus and her team were responsible for every aspect of keeping an installation operational, including contract negotiation and approval, facility maintenance, personnel billeting, drinking water distribution, implementing force protection, providing the guard force for internal security, preparing excess gear and equipment for retrograde and operating the rifle range, among many other duties.
The job also came with the responsibility of maintaining overall good order and discipline for approximately 1,200 Coalition force members and contractors. Trogus is grateful for the unique billet that she was given, because unlike her previous billet as a company commander with the 7th Engineer Support Battalion, she was exclusively in charge of Camp Korean Village, which meant she established camp rules and regulations, and conducted operations independent of the battalion’s command element.
The captain may have had a good deal of freedom and flexibility as the camp commandant, but there were still certain restrictions she had to be mindful of, since CLB-7 shared battle space with Regimental Combat Team 8.
“Being owned by the MLG but sharing the battle space with RCT-8 presented command and control issues. At first, it was a struggle learning how to respond and communicate when an incident would occur off base, because technically RCT-8 was responsible for that battle space. But since my guys were usually the first to observe and report incidents, it was important that we not only communicated with our MLG higher headquarters but also with the RCT.
“It was only with the outstanding support and bilateral cooperation from all units aboard the base that we were able to resolve those issues,” she added.
Capt. Saul Arroyo, one of three 3rd ESC officers taking over the duties as camp commandant, feels lucky to take the reins from CLB-7, because as he said, “all [we] have to do is maintain and uphold the high standards that are already in place.”
Trogus admits she is elated that the transfer to the 3rd ESC is complete, but has mixed feelings about leaving the place she has called her ‘home away from home’ for the past couple of months.
“I honestly don’t want to leave because there are still Marines here,” she explained. “My number one focus while here was to ensure that everyone aboard Camp Korean Village was taken care of to the best of my ability. I am positive we accomplished that.” Once Trogus and the Marines of CLB-7 leave CKV, they plan to redeploy to the U.S. to enjoy much-needed time with their families and eventually begin to refocus their efforts towards future missions.