CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - A young Marine embraced his wife aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., Jan. 19, 2014, knowing he would not hold her again for at least seven months. This was the beginning of his journey to Afghanistan.
Corporal Dylan Cook, a 21-year-old ammunition technician with Ammunition Company, 1st Supply Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 15, 1st Marine Logistics Group, left for his first deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
“I’m mentally prepared,” said Cook, a native of Costa Mesa, Calif. “I’m a little anxious. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was nervous, too, but overall, I’m excited. I hope to find out what it’s like to operate in a forward-deployed zone and learn about the culture and the people who live there.”
Cook will be supporting Combat Logistics Battalion 7, which includes elements of 1st Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, 1st Medical Battalion, 1st Dental Battalion and 7th Engineer Support Battalion. These 1st MLG units, along with parts of 1st Marine Division and 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, will make up more than 4,000 Marines and sailors operating out of Camp Leatherneck and Camp Bastion to support the military drawdown in Afghanistan.
“This is possibly the last chapter for the Marine Corps in Afghanistan,” said Brig. Gen. Vincent A. Coglianese, 1st MLG Commanding General. “Historically, it’s pretty important. As Marines, we come into the Marine Corps to answer our nation’s call. I think they will learn a lot about the team while they are supporting each other out there.”
I MEF (Fwd) will assume responsibility of Regional Command (Southwest), which is responsible for both Helmand and Nimroz provinces. They are slated to be the last major Marine Corps command to deploy to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and are scheduled to return at the end of 2014.
“[CLB-7] will assist with the retrograde and demolition of bases as we start to pull out of Afghanistan,” said Capt. Matthew Kendrick, CLB-7 rear officer-in-charge and 28-year-old native of Louisville, Ky.
The Marines are providing logistical support to all units within Regional Command Southwest, enabling them to execute their mission. They are also collecting ammunition and other gear from forward operating bases and transferring them to Camp Leatherneck. From there, Marines will deem gear serviceable or not and detonate and dispose of unserviceable gear.
Although they are downsizing, the Marines are still supporting the fight. They will provide all tactical level logistics support to I MEF forces, including movement and maneuver, intelligence, fires, command and control, and security.
“The Marine Corps is truly a [Marine Air-Ground Task Force], and the logistics combat element within the last 12 years has played a big part in Afghanistan and Iraq,” said Coglianese. “It’s something that they train to do day-in and day-out. I know they are ready to take on the mission and whatever is thrown at them.”