FORWARD OPERATING BASE EDINBURGH, Afghanistan --
Marine Corps forces, with efforts spearheaded by Combat Logistics Battalion 6, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward) and other domestic and international entities, have all but put the final touches on their transfer of authority with British forces here April 5.
Along with elements of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Afghan National Army, the joint American/British operation materialized over a handful of extremely large scale combat logistics patrols executed within the last month. A mutual agreement between the two allies, the transfer of authority will allow the British to focus their efforts elsewhere in country while providing U.S. troops with another staging point for continued operations in the Helmand River Valley.
“This series of convoy operations was organized to bring Marine Corps gear and supplies here and haul ‘Brit’ gear back,” said 2nd Lt. Jeff Clement, Truck Platoon commander with Alpha Company, CLB-6, 1st MLG (FWD).
”It’s a shared load of equipment and supplies both ways and things have been very successful thus far,” said Clement, a native of Cary, N.C. “We’ve had around 200 vehicles participate in each convoy which leaves us with the room we need to do what we do and make things happen out here as far as the transfer of authority goes.”
This success comes in light of the extremely rugged terrain and significant enemy threat present along the route. On every occasion, the convoy has experienced indirect, small arms and rocket propelled grenade fire – all of this on top of the numerous improvised explosive devices that dot the region.
During the latest operation, nearly a dozen IEDs were exploited on the way here. The convoy was also the subject of sustained small arms fire over a period of nearly two days. The vigilance and professionalism of all troops involved resulted in minimal injuries, allowing all to push through toward mission accomplishment.
“All things considered, I am extremely pleased with the performance of these Marines,” said Clement.
After nearly 50 hours on the road, the hundreds of troops rallied at the growing base just outside of Musa Qal’eh. Marines spent time on vehicle and weapons maintenance, unloaded and reloaded their trucks and perhaps most importantly, caught up on some much needed sleep. As intense as a nearly two day convoy can be, the Marines were happy to be a part of something so large – to include the long hours and enemy forces along the way.
“It was exciting to experience something so large like this,” said Lance Cpl. Steve Crabill, a field wireman with Headquarters and Support Co., CLB-6, MEB-Afghanistan, of his first convoy experience.
“It’s easy to talk about this kind of stuff back at base, but to see it first hand – the firefights and then the teamwork here, it’s pretty thrilling,” said Crabill, a native of Charleston, W.Va.
A veteran of logistics patrols to the area, Lance Cpl. Michael Paul, a military policeman with Alpha Co., CLB-6, MEB-Afghanistan, looks forward to each mission for several reasons.
“It’s just great being out here,” said Paul, a native of Blackstone, Mass. “We spend a lot of time and money being trained to do this type of stuff and it feels getting out here and getting things done. From interacting with the locals and ‘Brits’ to getting a little action, it’s a cool experience.”