Photo Information

Corporal John Chavez, a motor transportation operator with Combat Logistics Battalion 7, tightens a chain holding a Tractor, Rubber-Tired, Articulated Steering, Multi-Purpose vehicle during a retrograde operation aboard Forward Operating Base Nolay, Afghanistan, May 4, 2014. During the operation, Marines and sailors collected two TRAMs and two living quarter containers for future use aboard Camp Leatherneck.

Photo by Cpl. Cody Haas

CLB-7 Marines, sailors complete convoy out of Forward Operating Base Nolay for final time

12 May 2014 | Cpl. Cody Haas

Units currently deployed to Afghanistan are conducting missions to decrease the amount of gear and personnel aboard forward operating bases and combat outposts. One of the units providing this type of support is Combat Logistics Battalion 7.

Marines and sailors with CLB-7, Regional Command (Southwest), conducted a logistics patrol to Forward Operating Base Nolay for the last time during a retrograde operation in Helmand province, Afghanistan, May 3-5.

During the operation, Marines and sailors collected two Tractor, Rubber- Tired, Articulated Steering, Multi-Purpose vehicles and two living quarter containers from FOB Nolay to bring back to Camp Leatherneck. To and from FOB Nolay, mine detector equipped vehicles drove ahead for security to make sure the route was clear of threats.

“The equipment retrograde will still be useful to the Marines on base,” said 1st Lt. Bryan Colbourn, executive officer for Transportation Company, CLB-7.

Prior to leaving their lot at Camp Leatherneck, the Marines thoroughly checked 14 tactical vehicles to ensure a breakdown-free, 65 mile trip.

Once they arrived at FOB Nolay, the process of loading the TRAMs and living quarter containers took approximately one hour.

“It was pretty quick,” said Colbourn. “The Marines did a good job, as usual. They took care of it and got the job done.”

The Marines and sailors planned the mission tactics more than a week prior to the start of the operation for a smooth undertaking.

 “Our Marines were extremely well prepared before we went to Afghanistan to operate in an improvised explosive device rich environment,” said 1st Lt. Seth Monroe, motor transportation platoon commander with CLB-7. “We also had a route clearance platoon, tasked with us, to provide a hasty but deliberate clearance of each route to help the capability of the vehicles accomplish the mission.”

The closing of FOB Nolay has significance for the Marines, but also for the security of Afghanistan. Leaving the FOB, which housed the last remaining Marine brigade advisor team, marked the end of Marine advisors and coalition service members in Sangin, a once insurgent stronghold.

Marines transferred the FOB and full security responsibility of the region to ANA soldiers with the 2nd Brigade of the 215th Corps.

“This was the final tactical withdrawal of Nolay,” said Monroe. “We need to set the conditions right for the Afghan National Army to take over Afghanistan successfully by letting them use what they have,” said Colbourn.

The mission was complete after 48 hours, which consisted of 14 driving hours and more than 30 Marines and sailors coordinating en route in unison without incidents.

“It definitely went above expectation,” said Monroe. “They are all well trained and eager for future retrograding missions in Helmand province.”