Thursday, June 23, 2011
Marines on Camp Pendleton say they do not expect the President’s announcement of a drawdown of troops from Afghanistan to affect their planned deployments in the near future.
Camp Pendleton Marines are still preparing for another major deployment next spring, when the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force expects to carry out a planned rotation to replace Marines from Camp Le Jeune.
Master Sergeant Mark Oliva of 1MEF, who served in Afghanistan earlier this year, said the Marines are unlikely to be among the first to withdraw.
“Marines from 1st Marine Expeditionary Force based here on Camp Pendleton are continuing to plan for an upcoming deployment to Helmand Province and Nimruz Province early next year," he said. “We fully expect that a very similar force of what you see of Marines in Afghanistan right now is likely to continue through the near future.“
Oliva said Marines still have a key role to play in strengthening Afghan forces to take over control when U.S. forces leave, and maintaining recent gains. He said many Marines still listened carefully to what the President had to say.
“Even if it is not forces in our area for the initial draw down,” he said, “it is still going to have a significant impact on how we do business and where we‘re going to be placed.”
Oliva said about 5,000 Camp Pendleton-based Marines are currently in Afghanistan, down from a high of about 10,000 earlier this year.
He said the base is planning rigorous training exercises in preparation to boost those numbers again in southern Afghanistan next spring.