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Logistics squadron preps for US downsizing in Afghanistan

US Marine Corps News

By Cpl. Lisa M. Tourtelot, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (FWD)

CAMP BASTION, Afghanistan -- Marines and Sailors with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 16 began a retrograde of their gear and equipment aboard Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, April 19, 2012.

MALS-16 Marines will move almost 150,000 pounds of maintenance equipment back to the United States. The efforts will support Department of Defense and Marine Corps guidance for downsizing in Afghanistan.

“Last time I was here…a lot of our work was building everything up,” said Cpl. Thomas Dragonetti, a mobile maintenance facility technician with MALS-16 of his 2010 deployment to Afghanistan. “Today, we’re working on retrograding a lot of these mobile facilities. We’re working toward the drawdown of Marines in Afghanistan and this is going to be a big step in reducing gear.”

The Discovery Bay, Calif., native explained that he believes their efforts are essential to the drawdown mission.

Despite retrograding almost 70 tons of maintenance gear, there are no expected interruptions in squadron operations.

“We’ve conducted a lot of analysis as to how we can condense our footprint and start sending assets and people home – today it’s the assets – while still maintaining full capability to support a flight line of combat-critical aircraft,” said Capt. Jonathan Risser, an avionics officer with MALS-16 and Marion, Ohio, native. “We won’t lose any capability whatsoever.”

Not only will the squadron not lose any capability, but Risser expects the retrograde to be successful and facilitate the eventual drawdown of Marine forces in Afghanistan.

“[MALS-16] Marines are highly motivated and they understand the intent and purpose to get this done,” said Risser. “[The retrograde] hails the success we’re experiencing here in Afghanistan and works toward getting everyone home safely when the time comes.”

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