FORWARD OPERATING BASE RIDGEWAY, Iraq -- Nearly half of the 1st Force Service Support Group has arrived and is getting settled in to its bases in Iraq,
steadily preparing to receive the reigns from the Army here.
While its main mission will be providing supplies and other support to
I Marine Expeditionary Force Marines operating in western Iraq, the Group also plans to squeeze in some humanitarian assistance operations to help the Iraqi people start to rebuild their country.
Slated to officially relieve the Army's 82nd Airborne Division in the spring, I MEF will take over Security and Stability Operations in the newly liberated country. Replacing the 82nd Airborne's support elements, the 1st FSSG will sustain the 1st Marine Division and 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, said Lt. Col. Yori R. Escalante, 39, the Group's operations officer.
Forty percent of 1st FSSG's Marines have left staging areas in Kuwait
and are now in Iraq, due to near-constant convoys and flights. Once the
rest of the Group's Marines arrive during the next month, its numbers will
total approximately 5,000.
The Group began transporting its forces into Iraq as early as Feb. 9, in
preparation for the transfer of authority, said Escalante.
Headquartered here, the 1st FSSG will oversee the operations of Combat
Service Support Groups 15 and 11. The latter will directly support the 1st
Marine Division's Regimental Combat Teams 1 and 7 with Combat Service
Support Battalions 1 and 7. CSSG-15 will be responsible for acquiring all
supplies and pushing them to the battalions.
Since elements of the 1st FSSG will be stretched throughout western Iraq,
Marines plan to reach out to nearby communities.
Marines located near Iraqi towns have the obligation to provide the
residents of the town with humanitarian assistance, said Capt. Robert T.
Meade, 30, the 1st FSSG's future operations officer.
To fulfill this commitment to the Iraqi people, the Group plans to use its
resources to enrich the quality of life for the civilian population
performing such actions as clearing and disposing of ammunition and
ordnance stockpiles scattered across the county, said Meade.
Approximately 25,000 Marines and sailors will be deployed to Iraq and Kuwait
for continuing operations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.