MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. -- More than 30 Marines and Sailors with 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) returned to Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point Jan. 30, marking an end to aerial support operations across southwestern Afghanistan.
2nd MAW (Fwd.) took the reins as the lead aviation combat element in southwestern Afghanistan, providing responsive air support to 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) and Regional Command Southwest while assisting Afghan National Security Forces as they assumed security responsibility in their country.
Consisting of 11 squadrons and a variety of aircraft, 2nd MAW (Fwd.) controlled the skies over southwestern Afghanistan during the continuing troop reduction in the country.
Units across the board have adapted 2nd MAW’s command structure as the Corps continues to withdraw troops, allowing Afghan security forces to take the lead.
During the deployment, 2nd MAW (Fwd.) and 2nd MEF (Fwd.) shifted their focus to their role as advisors, providing support the Afghans needed to assume a broadened leadership role. The Marines also continued to assist with the orderly withdrawal of U.S. personnel and equipment.
2nd MAW (Fwd.) played an integral role in helping Afghan forces slowly but surely regain control of their government while simultaneously providing additional capabilities, said Lt. Col. Thomas P. Bajus II, the 2nd MAW (Fwd.) executive officer.
“We are able to assist them by providing the six functions of Marine aviation,” he said. “Our intent was to set the Afghans up for success.”
Bajus said the Afghans were grateful for the support and they are ready to assume full responsibility for security.
“We were very successful,” he said. “We were able to see the Afghan National Army take the lead in many roles.”
The deployment was a success due to the teamwork and esprit de corps, Bajus said.
“The Marines performed exceptionally. They took on a mission that is different from what they are used to doing, but the Marines were very flexible and they adapted to the new mission of security force assistance. They displayed a level of maturity that showed the discipline of our Marines.”