Marines prepared to handle any redeployments in Afghanistan
Published Wed, Jan 28, 2009 12:00 AM

Pulling Marines out of Iraq and into Afghanistan -- as proposed by the Corps' top general -- will have little impact on Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, an air station official says.

"A shift in our national focus from combat operations in Iraq to combat operations in Afghanistan doesn't change the most basic aspect of our missions as Marines -- to support the war-fighter on the ground," said Maj. James Jarvis, air station spokesman.

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Conway proposed moving the 22,000 Marines currently on the ground in Iraq into Afghanistan, where Taliban and al-Qaida insurgents continue to be a problem for U.S. and NATO forces.

"When you've got those two elements, you've got the potential for a long-term insurgency," Conway told reporters. "That's where the Marines ought to be. That's what we offer the nation."

MCAS Beaufort has been sending F/A-18 Hornet squadrons to Al Asad Airbase in western Iraq since January 2005. Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 224 was Beaufort's first squadron to deploy to the airfield in Iraq's Al Anbar province.

The Marines of VMFA-115 and Marine Wing Support Squadron 273 are stationed at Al Asad and will return to Beaufort later this year.

"Decisions regarding the operational employment of Marine fixed-wing assets ... would be decided by commanders there on the ground," Jarvis said. "We provide well-trained forces and they employ them. Wherever they need us to be, we'll be ready to execute. Wherever the fight is, that's where we need to


Conway said the Corps does not have the manpower or equipment necessary to fight wars on both fronts.

"Anything that you put into Afghanistan must necessarily come as a reduction of Marine forces in Iraq," he said. "When the door slams on the Marines in Iraq, let all the Marines be on the other side of the


The repositioning of troops into Afghanistan is supported by President Barack Obama, who has said the war in Afghanistan is the higher priority.