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Commanding officer of 1st Marine Reconnaissance Battalion at Camp Pendleton is relieved of his duties

CAMP PENDLETON — Lt. Col. Francisco X. Zavala, the commanding officer of the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, was removed from his command on Tuesday, May 7.

Zavala, who led the battalion since 2018, was removed by Major Gen. Robert F. Castellvi, commander of the 1st Marine Division, after a “loss of trust and confidence” in Zavala’s ability to lead, the Marine Corps announced late Tuesday.

Castellvi has appointed Maj. Jeffrey Erb commanding officer of 1st Reconnaissance Battalion.

Marine Corps officials gave no further details on what led to Zavala’s dismissal.

The 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, based on Camp Pendleton, conducts advanced force operations, amphibious and underwater reconnaissance, and ground reconnaissance or surveillance to observe, identify, and report intelligence information.

Zavala, a native of Helotes, Texas, commissioned in August 2000 and was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines. He deployed to Korea and later to Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

In 2004, he reported to 1st Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team Company, Security Force Battalion where he served as a platoon commander. In February 2009,  Zavala reported to 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines, and deployed as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. He joined the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines and redeployed.

In February 2011, Zavala reported to 4th Reconnaissance Battalion where he served as the Battalion Operations Officer until 2014. He then served as staff officer for the 2nd Marine Division from April 2015 until April 2018.

Zavala’s firing follows three other high-profile removals since the beginning of the year.

Col. Douglas Lemott Jr., the commander of Marine Corps Cyberspace Operations Group, was relieved of command May 3 after he was arrested on drunk driving charges in Virginia. Col. John Atkinson, commander of Headquarters and Service Battalion in Quantico, Va., was relieved on April 26 over allegations he drove under the influence in Prince William County.

Lt. Col. James R. Compton, commander of the Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 242 in Iwakuni, Japan, was relieved of his duties in January, a month after an F-18 hornet in the squadron collided with a KC-130 transport plane, killing all aboard both planes.

Source: Orange County Register

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