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THE DAILY NEWS / JOHN ALTHOUSE
Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson will lead the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade as it deploys to Afghanistan this spring.
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Nicholson assumes command of 2nd MEB

More than half of the 8,000 Marines and sailors headed to southern Afghanistan as part of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade will come from Camp Lejeune.

Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson assumed command of the 2nd MEB on Monday morning at a ceremony at Camp Lejeune. Lt. Gen. Dennis Hejlik, commanding general of II Marine Expeditionary Force, called it "a historic day."

"This really is a positive change for our country," Hejlik said. "This formalizes the Marine Corps' commitment to Afghanistan."

The MEB is made up of a command element, ground troops, an aviation element and a logistics regiment. The 8,000 troops scheduled to deploy this spring will absorb Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force - Afghanistan, which has been in southern Afghanistan since November, to complete the 10,000-strong Marine Expeditionary Brigade.

The ground element, Regimental Combat Team 3 (Reinforced), will include 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment and 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, both based at Camp Lejeune. The logistics element, Combat Logistics Regiment 2, will include Lejeune-based Combat Logistics Battalion 8 and 8th Engineer Support Battalion.

The aviation element, Marine Aircraft Group 40, will include Cherry Point Air Station-based Marine Attack Squadron 214, Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron and Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron-2.

The 2nd MEB will do counterinsurgency operations and work to train and mentor Afghan security forces. And the Marines realize that Afghanistan is much different than Iraq, he said.

"Iraq is off-the-chart First World in terms of infrastructure," compared to Afghanistan, Nicholson said.

There also is a lack of Afghan forces in the brigade's area of operations - Regional Command South - he said. But the Marines will work to change that.

"We're looking for local buy-in," Nicholson said. "We're going to spend a hell of a lot of time and a hell of a lot of effort" building up the forces.

But while the Marines will face challenges, Nicholson said they also have a great opportunity.

Many people study history, he said. "Very few have the opportunity to actually go out and make history."

 

Contact interactive content editor and military reporter Jennifer Hlad at jhlad@freedomenc.com or 910-219-8467.


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