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A mine resistant ambush protected vehicle provides security during a combat logistics patrol through Helmand province, Afghanistan, March 5. The patrol, conducted by Combat Logistics Battalion 4, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward), supported counterinsurgency operations in the area.

Photo by Cpl. Mark Stroud

Combat Logistics Battalion 4 supports operations in Afghanistan

23 Mar 2012 | Cpl. Mark W. Stroud Marine Corps Installations Pacific

Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 4 conducted a combat logistics patrol supporting counterinsurgency operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan, March 4-7.

The patrol delivered helium gas needed to operate the persistent ground surveillance system, also known as an aerostat surveillance balloon, along with other supplies to forward operating bases manned by Regimental Combat Team 6. CLB-4 is part of 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward).

“Keeping the PGSS personnel supplied with helium helps to secure the area of operations around the forward operating bases for both mounted and dismounted patrols,” said 1st Lt. Ryan L. Cornwell, a platoon commander with CLB-4 and patrol leader.

Aerostat balloons float above forward operating bases providing platforms for cameras to monitor the surrounding area, and they remotely transmit video to decision makers on the ground.

“The (balloons) are the eye in the sky; an observer who never gets tired or falls asleep on post,” said 1st Lt. Clayton T. Anderson, intelligence officer with the battalion.

The floating observation post, combined with other assets, provides a comprehensive surveillance solution around forward operating bases.

“When we are in a defensive position, we have overlapping fields of fire,” said Anderson. “This is the same thing; the blimp is one more tool that ensures redundancy in our observation of the area.”

Highly visible surveillance tools such as balloons can do more than simply monitor security threats.

“(The balloons) discourage enemy activity,” said Cornwell. “The insurgents are less likely to be active when they know they are being watched.”

The visible nature of the balloons also serves as a reminder to Afghans that the Marines are committed to improving the local security situation and protecting them from extremist threats.

“We are here to ensure the daily pattern of life for the majority is not disrupted by the minority who would cause harm,” said Anderson. “The (balloons) are a reminder to the (Afghans) that we are not leaving them, and that we are maintaining a presence.”

The CLB-4 patrol also delivered power generators, mail and food supplies to the forward operating base. On the return trip, the Marines towed vehicles back for repairs and upgrades and brought unused gear back to Camp Leatherneck in preparation for redeployment to the United States.

“We are assisting with retrograding equipment from the base however we can,” said Cornwell. “If we can haul it back now, we don’t have to haul it back later.”

According to Cornwell, the combat logistics patrol was completed successfully thanks to the small-unit leadership exhibited by the Marines.

“I think the success of the mission is a credit to our (non-commissioned officer) leadership,” said Cornwell. “We delivered all of the supplies to the supported units and returned all Marines and gear safely.”