CAMP BASTION, Afghanistan -- In the six months the Landing Support Marines with the Arrival/Departure Airfield Control Group here have been deployed to Afghanistan, they have already coordinated the throughput of millions of pounds of cargo and thousands of passengers throughout Helmand province.
One of the major functions of the A/DACG is transporting service members to and from forward operating bases in theater. It also receives inbound deploying troops and redeploys individuals back to the United States. To date, more than 60,000 passengers have been transported in and out of Afghanistan and throughout Helmand Province. Another major function of the Landing Support Detachment of the A/DACG is to conduct combat resupply missions in support of combat operations for Regional Command Southwest.
The Marines conduct immediate resupply missions through helicopter support teams and air delivery. HST missions involve Marines rigging an external load to a sling attached to the bottom of a cargo helicopter that is then flown to Marines at remote forward operating bases. They can transport items such as Humvees, generators, artillery and other heavy equipment.
Another method of immediate resupply is air delivery, in which an aircraft drops containerized bundles of food, water and ammunition via parachute systems directly to the Marines who need it.
"Getting the gear to the troops at the frontlines by being an immediate resupply method via air versus ground movement is what we do," said Staff Sgt. Crystal Salinas, air delivery chief, Headquarters and Service Company, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward). "We help sustain them with chow, water and fuel. We also become a safe haven for those troops that may be in contact [with insurgents] by air dropping ammunition. When it absolutely needs to get there to them, they call us."
To date, the Marines have conducted more than 200 HST missions, lifting approximately 27 million pounds of cargo. They have also conducted more than 55 air delivery missions, air-dropping approximately 1.2 million pounds of supplies.
"The Marines have gone above and beyond of what anyone expected when we first got here," said 1st Lt. Michael Culligan, Landing Support Detachment officer in charge, 25, from Troy, N.Y. "Obviously, with the surge that occurred when we first got to country, it was pretty hectic, but they defiantly stepped up to the plate. They work 12-hour shifts every day, and they rarely ever made mistakes, which is impressive when we’ve dealt with almost 5,000 flights."
The Landing Support Marines keep troops ready and equipped to conduct counterinsurgency operations.
"If you think of the operation of 1st Marine Expeditionary Force as a living organism, we would be the heartbeat," said Culligan. "We are the ones that are continually pushing people around the [area of operation], helping commanders shape the battlefield and resupplying troops in combat in order to continue pushing offensive operations against the enemy."