CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan --
Marines and sailors with Combat Logistics Battalion 7 handed over responsibilities as the logistics combat element for Regional Command (Southwest) to Combat Logistics Battalion 1 during a transfer of authority ceremony aboard Camp Leatherneck, Helmand province, Afghanistan, Aug. 1.
This was the third deployment to Afghanistan for the unit based in Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California, and the casing of CLB-7’s colors signifies their Operation Enduring Freedom mission is now complete.
Combat Logistics Battalion 7’s deployment to Afghanistan began during January 2014. Throughout their time deployed, the unit completed more than 20 combat logistics patrols and provided transportation support to 95 helicopter support team missions and 1,074 general support missions aboard the Camps Bastion and Leatherneck complex. They conducted 58 engineering missions and assisted in teaching warehousing operations and the reorganization of the Afghan National Army’s 215th Corps Forward Supply Depot located on Camp Shorabak. Combat Logistics Battalion 7 also provided maintenance training and heavy equipment maintenance training courses to the Afghan National Army.
The Marines and sailors of the CLB-7 services companies completed 38 Warrior Express Service missions by distributing more than 3,636 tri-walls of mail, and providing over 172,000 meals to Forward Operating Bases Delaram II and Dwyer. The supply and maintenance Marines and sailors provided recovery support for 14 operations and seven immediate response team missions, and conducted 196 maintenance support team missions throughout RC(SW) area of operations. Medical Company treated 3,770 patients on Camp Leatherneck and FOB Dwyer, and provided environmental health site assessments to outlying forward operating bases within RC(SW).
Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company responded to 1,402 incident reports and destroyed materials totaling 15,125 pounds of net explosive weight. They also supported 239 route clearance missions and the support for 53 named operations. Combat Logistics Battalion 7 also supported numerous operations in support of RC(SW) to completely close or transfer four bases in northern Helmand Province, including the historic liftoff from Sangin district.
The CLB-7 Marines and sailors were responsible for maintaining more than $231 million worth of equipment and closing out four coalition accounts in accordance with retrograde efforts. Of the coalition accounts, none of the gear was Marine Corps gear, and Marines had to learn and understand the process for accounting, requisitioning, retrograding and closing the accounts of theater provided equipment and coalition provided equipment. The gear combined from the accounts was worth more than $23 million. The unit also facilitated the turn-in of more than 600 containers, totaling more than $42 million, in just two days.
Combat Logistics Battalion 7 was very fortunate enough to not have lost any lives during their missions and operations during their time in Afghanistan.
“I think the Marines and sailors performed very well, and I am really proud of them,” said Lt. Col. Sid R. Welch, commanding officer, CLB-7, and native of Bellville, Texas. “Our motto here has been ‘Enable the March.’ We tell the Marines to be professional, be polite, find a way to say yes, and a way to support a unit because that is how we win. They accomplished the mission, and they did it proficiently and safely.”
The ceremony marks the start of CLB-1’s third deployment to Afghanistan. The unit, based out of Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, is scheduled to be here to help close down Camps Bastion and Leatherneck. They will be the last unit to aid RC(SW) with tactical-level logistical support, and will close out another chapter in Marine Corps history as the last unit to serve as the LCE for RC(SW).
Combat Logistics Battalion 1 has a unique role and responsibility as the LCE for RC(SW). They are set up to maintain and sustain all units with ground and transportation support, explosive ordnance disposal, medical, disbursing and exchange services as well as postal, engineering, supply and maintenance services.
With retrograde and redeployment efforts underway, the mission of CLB-1 versus that of CLB-7 has changed a bit to focus more on the troops preparing to close down the Bastion-Leatherneck Complex as more responsibility is turned over to the Afghans.
“My goal is to ensure that we meet the commanding general’s intent of achieving retrograde and redeployment with minimal risk, so I am going to finish what Lt. Col. Welch and his team started,” said Lt. Col. Joon H. Um, commanding officer, CLB-1, and native of Harrington Park, New Jersey. “He talks about ‘Enabling the March,’ and (CLB-1) needs to finish the march. It is a privilege to be here, and to be finishing things during these last few months, it is truly an honor. This isn’t a CLB-7 or CLB-1 fight, it is a joint fight because we are interchangeable, under the same regiment. They started it, and we are going to finish it. We have some big shoes to fill that CLB-7 has left for us. And we will finish the march.”