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Project runway: Marines move 12 million pounds of matting in Afghanistan

US Marine Corps News

5/9/2011 By Cpl. Samantha H. Arrington, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Fwd)

CAMP BASTION, Afghanistan — Marine Wing Support Squadron 272, with the help of Marines from around 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward), completed the removal of aluminum matting formerly used as the expeditionary runway at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, May 8.

The Marines picked up more than 1.8 million square feet of aluminum matting during the project. The removal of the matting was scheduled to take more than four months, but the Marines finished it in about a month.

“I am extremely proud of the Marines for the huge project they completed out here,” said Lt. Col. Dale Kruse, commanding officer of MWSS-272. “We anticipated that it would take about three months longer than this and finishing it this early is quite the accomplishment.”

Each of the more than 77,000 pieces of aluminum matting weighs about 155 pounds, and is 12-feet long by 2-feet wide. The combined weight of matting equals 12 million pounds. The Marines logged more than 10,000 man-hours to complete the mission.

The aluminum matting will be reused by coalition forces in Afghanistan to create other expeditionary airfields throughout the NATO International Security Assistance Force’s area of operations.

MWSS-272, with assistance from Marines from Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 2, Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 40 and other 2nd MAW (Fwd.) squadrons, worked an average of 10 hours per day for a month to finish the project.

An 11,500-foot permanent runway opened at Camp Bastion Feb. 11, which allowed the expeditionary runway to be removed.

The increased capabilities of the new runway allow larger aircraft like the C-5 Galaxy and Boeing 737 to land and launch from Camp Bastion, members of the Regional Command Southwest aviation community said it also benefits combat operations for 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) and its coalition partners.

“We went from a 7,000 to 11,000 foot runway,” said Capt. Jeff Steele, the director of safety and standardization for Marine Aerial Refueler Transport squadrons deployed in support of operations in Afghanistan. “The difference now is it provides for completely unrestricted operations.”

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