Photo Information

British servicemembers from the Joint Helicopter Force (Afghanistan) salute as the colors are retired during a transfer of authority ceremony at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, Feb. 29. British forces routinely work side by side with their American counterparts in support of operations in Afghanistan.

Photo by Cpl. Isaac Lamberth

San Diego-based Marines assume aviation command in Afghanistan

20 Mar 2012 | Cpl. Lisa Tourtelot

More than 3,000 Marines with the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) officially assumed aviation responsibilities in the Regional Command Southwest area of operations Feb. 29 aboard Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan.

The 3d MAW (Fwd) Marines relieved 2d MAW (Fwd), based out of Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, NC. The East Coast wing has been the primary Marine Corps aviation asset in support of NATO International Security Assistance Force operations since early 2011.

Brig. Gen. Gregg A. Sturdevant took command of 3d MAW (Fwd) when the unit mobilized for deployment earlier this year. “It’s going to be a big year of change,” said Sturdevant in an interview with Gretel Kovach of U-T San Diego prior to deployment. “Our total end strength is going to change, our mission is going to change somewhat. … But I think the demand for aviation will at a minimum stay the same, if not increase.”

Sturdevant further elaborated , “When the Afghans are asked to stand more on their own two feet or take more of a lead, with them not having an air wing to depend on, we are going to be their go-to guys.”

The San Diego-based wing will provide command and control of aviation capabilities to support operations with the Marine Air-Ground Task Force, British Task Force Helmand, Afghan National Security Forces, as well as Georgian and Bahrani military forces, explained Maj. Mark Zimmer, the 3d MAW (Fwd) future plans officer.

During the transfer of authority ceremony, Sturdevant said Maj. Gen. Glenn Walters and 2d MAW (Fwd) have taken aviation combat war fighting to a new level and hopes 3d MAW (Fwd) can maintain the same level of excellence.