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British Rear Adm. Christopher Snow, deputy commander for Strike Force NATO, greets a U.S. Marine getting off an Air Force C-17 that landed in Naples, Italy, on Wednesday afternoon, bringing home 16 Strike Force NATO forces from a six-month deployment to Afghanistan.

British Rear Adm. Christopher Snow, deputy commander for Strike Force NATO, greets a U.S. Marine getting off an Air Force C-17 that landed in Naples, Italy, on Wednesday afternoon, bringing home 16 Strike Force NATO forces from a six-month deployment to Afghanistan. (Sandra Jontz/ S&S)

British Rear Adm. Christopher Snow, deputy commander for Strike Force NATO, greets a U.S. Marine getting off an Air Force C-17 that landed in Naples, Italy, on Wednesday afternoon, bringing home 16 Strike Force NATO forces from a six-month deployment to Afghanistan.

British Rear Adm. Christopher Snow, deputy commander for Strike Force NATO, greets a U.S. Marine getting off an Air Force C-17 that landed in Naples, Italy, on Wednesday afternoon, bringing home 16 Strike Force NATO forces from a six-month deployment to Afghanistan. (Sandra Jontz/ S&S)

Emma Donovan, 10 months old, points to the plane that her mother, Leah Donovan, told her that her father would be getting off. Emma last was held by her father, Marine Maj. Ed Donovan, when she was 4 months old.

Emma Donovan, 10 months old, points to the plane that her mother, Leah Donovan, told her that her father would be getting off. Emma last was held by her father, Marine Maj. Ed Donovan, when she was 4 months old. (Sandra Jontz/ S&S)

NAPLES, Italy — The first wave of NATO troops based in Italy touched down Wednesday after a six-month deployment to Afghanistan.

"I’m glad to be back. I’ll take the smell of burning trash in Naples any day over Kabul," joked U.S. Marine Sgt. Aiden Klein, 28.

But seriously, he noted, the contingency did good work while there.

"You can actually see the progress," he said. "We have a lot more work, but you can see the progress."

In all, roughly 40 Strike Force NATO troops will be returning home this week and next. The NATO troops had served at the headquarters of the International Security Assistance Force in Kabul since January, helping commanders with administration, logistics, intelligence and operations, said British Rear Adm. Christopher Snow, deputy commander for Strike Force NATO.

Though the Naples-based force serves as the maritime element for NATO’s quick-response force, the individual troops were able to assist commanders in Afghanistan in other areas as well, he said.

As of June, about 52,700 troops from 40 nations serve in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, said German air force Col. Klaus Bücklei, quoting U.S. military numbers. The force now includes 23,550 U.S. troops. Roughly another 13,000 U.S. troops support Operation Enduring Freedom, he said.


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