The American and Afghanistan flags fly over Forward Operating Base Musa Qala together for the last time Nov. 9. The Marines of India Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, pulled down the American flag later in the day when they turned the base over to the Afghan National Army. (Cpl. Corey Dabney / Marine Corps)
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The Marine Corps has reached another milestone as it winds down operations in Afghanistan.
As the majority of U.S. forces prepares to pull out in 2014, the Corps has closed its forward operating base in the Musa Qala district of Helmand province.
Members of India Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, were the last to mount up Nov. 9 and leave the post where Marines fought for nearly half a decade to pacify one of the most hotly contested areas of the country.
Marine Corps Times closely covered operations in Musa Qala over the years, publishing a cover story in 2011 about one big-time battle that occurred on the base. During that incident, all hell broke loose when an insurgent detained on the base escaped from his jail cell, killed two members of 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines, and nearly brought down an MV-22 Osprey carrying a three-star Navy SEAL.
And, of course, it was in Musa Qala 2011 that then-Sgt. Scott Moore created his cheesy YouTube video inviting Hollywood A-lister Mila Kunis to the Marine Corps Bithday Ball.
The Marines of 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, were the first to land in the district, in 2008, taking over military operations there from British forces. By then the Taliban was well-entrenched in the area and had recently assassinated the district chief.
Today, many residents have returned to the district, which was once nearly abandoned, although insurgents remain active.
The Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police continue to engage in regular firefights there.