CAMP KOREAN VILLAGE, Iraq --
With the Marine Corps mission in Iraq coming closer to an end, all of the gear and equipment that has been used since Operation Iraqi Freedom first began, now has to be sent back to the states for repair or to support other missions around the world.
Units currently deployed to Iraq are conducting missions to decrease the amount of gear and personnel aboard forward operating bases and combat outposts. One of these units, 4th Platoon, Transportation Support Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 46, is conducting missions out of Camp Korean Village, Iraq.
The platoon has been conducting retrograde and resupply missions to smaller bases in western Iraq since they replaced CLB-7 in early September 2009.
So far the platoon has successfully participated in the closing down of one combat outpost and has significantly reduced the amount of gear and equipment aboard the other combat outposts in western Anbar province.
“We support every forward operating base and combat outpost in the western area of operation,” said 1st Lt. Jonathan Babineau, the platoon commander. “This applies to both resupply and retrograde support.”
The platoon conducts resupply missions every few days, keeping their surrounding bases supplied with essentials such as water and fuel. Babineau explained that on every mission they conduct, the platoon’s top priorities are to resupply outlying units with basic necessities such as mail, disbursing and Post Exchange services, and to retrograde unnecessary equipment from the bases.
With every trip, the platoon brings back a load of unneeded gear, which is later sent to Al Asad Air Base or Camp Al Taqaddum for further retrograde.
“Everything we do is in anticipation for when we have to completely withdraw from the bases,” Babineau said. “When word comes down that a base needs to be cleared there should be so little gear and equipment left that the process runs smoothly.”
As the Marines steadily draw down in Iraq, the focus of logistical missions is switching from supporting combat operations to a successful drawdown. More than half of the Marines in 4th Platoon have previously deployed to Iraq and have experienced both environments, noticing the extreme difference.
“It’s a different fight now,” Babineau said. “We are now focused on withdrawing troops and equipment from most areas and turning over the bases to the Iraqi Army.”
Even though the change in mission seems drastic to the returning Marines, they still focus on the importance of the responsible drawdown.
“During my first deployment we were setting up COP’s and now we are taking them down,” said. Cpl. Genesis Yeargin, a motor transportation operator with 4th Platoon. “The progress we have made here since the invasion is very visible.”
The reduction of gear is only one of many indicators the responsible drawdown is in fully underway. Slowly but surely the Marine Corps’ footprint in Iraq will continue to disappear.