CAMP TAQADDUM, Iraq -- As the Marine Corps executes a rotation of its forces in Iraq, a daunting task of providing logistical and medical support to the nearly 29,000 Marines, soldiers and sailors of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) has presented itself.
This responsibility will be the duty of the Camp Pendleton, Calif.-based 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward.)
Comprised of approximately 4,000 Marines and sailors, the 1st MLG was handed the reigns from its east coast counterpart, the 2nd Marine Logistics Group, with an informal ceremony Feb. 13, 2006 at Camp Taqaddum, Iraq.
Camp Taqaddum is a logistics hub for troops in the Al Anbar Province and is the sight for a surgical shock trauma platoon, or SSTP, that provides immediate medical care to those who are wounded.
While the force is comprised mainly of Marines from Camp Pendleton, troops from the Camp Lejuene, N.C.-based 2nd MLG, the Okinawa, Japan-based 3rd MLG and reserve Marines from the 4th MLG are filling the ranks as well.
Leading the 1st MLG is Col. David M. Richtsmeier, who previously served as a regimental commander in the Group.
The transition allows the Marines of the 2nd MLG to return home after serving in Iraq for a year, while the 1st MLG will maintain responsibility for the next 12 months.
With Marine forces spread out across a dangerous province the size of South Carolina, Richtsmeier’s units have been task organized and strategically placed throughout Anbar in places like Fallujah, Al Asad and in camps near the Jordanian and Syrian borders to ensure the force is supported and able to conduct continuous operations.
Missions the 1st MLG will be tasked with during their deployment include receiving and distributing supplies, conducting combat logistics patrols to deliver supplies, maintenance and repair of equipment and medical services for coalition forces in the Al Anbar Province.
Aside from providing logistical support for U.S. troops, the 1st MLG will take on an equally important mission of supporting the development of the Iraqi security force’s logistical capabilities.
“Our mission will be different (than in previous deployment). The focus of our efforts has changed to taking a more active role in teaching and mentoring Iraqi forces,” said Richtsmeier.
Over the course of the next year Iraqi logistics will play a larger role in helping the country achieve self governance. This will be so the country can become an independent nation and help reduce the American presence in country, Richtsmeier added.
As Marines of the 1st MLG are still transiting into Iraq, they will have some big shoes to fill left by the units they are replacing.
The 2nd MLG did a great job in providing logistical support to the multi-national forces in Western Iraq, said Richtsmeier.
“I think the numbers speak for themselves,” Richtsmeier said.
Combat Logistics Regiment 25, a 2nd MLG unit, moved more than 26 million tons of equipment, conducted more than 600 combat logistics patrols and security patrols, discovered and encountered more than 70 improvised explosive devices and unexploded ordnance and mines, and logged over 480,000 miles on the treacherous highways and byways of western Iraq in a six month period.
“The deployment went very well if you measure that by what we came here to do, which was to provide general logistics support,” said Master Sgt. Mathew M. Matics, the operation chief with CLR-25.
Even though the Marines of the 1st MLG are still getting used to life in Iraq, they got off the airplane ready to work.
“Overall, (the 1st MLG Marines) are excited to step up to the plate and are up for the challenge,” Richtsmeier added.
As the personnel replacement is reaching its final stages and 1st MLG assumes logistics responsibility of the Al Anbar Province, the commanders are now looking to what the future has in store for the future.
“The things we learn here will help shape the future of logistics for the Marine Corps. The Marines are making history,” Richtsmeier added.