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Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 1 conduct retrograde operation in Helmand province, Afghanistan

Photo by Cpl. Cody Haas

Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 1 conduct retrograde operation in Helmand province, Afghanistan

22 Aug 2014 | Cpl. Cody Haas

As the U.S. footprint throughout Afghanistan begins to shrink, the extra gear and equipment needs to be retrograded back to the States by a unit capable of moving large items in a timely fashion. For Marines and sailors with Combat Logistics Battalion 1, it is their mission.

Service members with CLB-1 conducted a retrograde operation aboard Patrol Base Boldak, Helmand province, Afghanistan, Aug. 14, 2014.

The CLB-1 Marines and sailors mounted in Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles before sunrise and convoyed approximately two hours from Camp Leatherneck to PB Boldak to retrograde tactical gear and equipment.

“We used (Tractor, Rubber-Tired, Articulated Steering, Multi-Purpose vehicles) and (logistics vehicle system replacements) for the air conditioning units and containers,” said 1st Lt. Tracey Fetherson, a platoon commander with motor transportation company, CLB-1. “My Marines are outstanding. We were able to beat our timeframe by three hours today. We are constantly getting better and smarter with our loading procedures.”

Since 2011, Patrol Base Boldak has been operated by infantry Marines and been used as Camps Bastion and Leatherneck’s southern deterrent against enemy insurgents. Throughout the past three years, PB Boldak has acquired enough tactical gear from units to sustain more than a company sized unit.

The operation was designed to retrograde the majority of the excess gear and equipment such as living quarter’s containers and AC units too large to be loaded onto a regular convoy.

“Every mission the Marines learn what worked and what did not, and they will continue to improve for future operations,” said Fetherson, a native of Stafford, Virginia. “The junior Marines always accomplish the mission no matter how big it is. They know what they have to do in order to accomplish the mission, and they do it well. Without junior Marines the missions would not be successful.”
This is the third deployment to Afghanistan for CLB-1. The unit, based out of Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, is scheduled to be here to help close down Camps Bastion and Leatherneck by the end of 2014. They will be the last unit to aid Regional Command (Southwest) with tactical-level logistical support.