News: Reserve Marines come together, accomplish mission in Afghanistan
Story by Sgt. John Jackson
HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Of the more than 200 Marines that make up General Support Motor Transport Company, Marine Air-Ground Task Force Support Battalion 11.2, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward), all but six are Reserve Component Marines.
The Marines in the company have various military occupational specialties and come from multiple Marine Corps reserve sites throughout the U.S.
“The company started out with about 220 Marines from 34 different reserve stations,” said Lt. Col. David Gibbs, the MSB 11.2 commanding officer. “They came together prior to deploying at Quantico Viper and [Enhanced Mohave Viper] and have been performing brilliantly ever since.”
Typically, most active duty companies are able to work together as a unit for up to a year prior to deploying. GSMT Co. had just a few months.
Having the opportunity to train together as a company at EMV allowed the Marines to build confidence in one another and confidence in the company as a whole.
“EMV definitely helped us to build unit cohesion,” said Capt. Robert Moore, GSMT Co. commander. “The Marines were able to work together, [physically train] together, eat together, live together and just get to know one another.”
Throughout the company’s predeployment training, leaders emerged to ensure the Marines were prepared to deploy.
“The command team was just phenomenal at making sure the company was well trained,” Gibbs said. “They have outstanding leadership from the company commander to the first sergeant to the [staff noncommissioned officers] and [noncommissioned officers]. Everyone’s personalities meshed together well, making a very balanced group.”
At the conclusion of EMV, GSMT Co. deployed to Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, to begin an approximate seven-month deployment. While deployed, the company strives to always say ‘yes’ to other units in Helmand province.
“Simply put, our mission is to not say ‘no’ to any unit who needs support,” said Moore, a native of Atlanta, Ga. “We have done base support, supported coalition forces and done heavy equipment support as well. Our mission is to help everyone succeed out here.”
The company’s mission includes conducting vehicle maintenance for their battalion and other units in the area. The Marines also provide heavy equipment support to the Sort Lot on Camp Leatherneck. Additionally, the company is responsible for escorting Afghan truck drivers carrying fuel to forward operating bases in Helmand province. This mission is unique and gives the Marines an opportunity to interact with Afghan civilians.
According to Gibbs, the company delivered approximately 2 million gallons of fuel throughout Helmand province during their deployment.
For one of the company’s platoon commanders, the past several months have been a time to remember.
“It’s just been an incredible experience,” said 1st Lt. Mariela Pena, 2nd Platoon commander, GSMT Co. “Not too many female Marines have the opportunity to do a job like this. I did have a few concerns [about working with the Afghans] because of my gender, but I have had no issues at all. It has been great.”
When not deployed, Pena, a Walnut Creek, Calif., native, is a city planner for Oakland, Calif. Since becoming mobilized in the summer of 2011, she said her Marines have done outstanding work.
“I think from day one the Marines have exceeded all expectation,” Pena said. “The Marines really worked well together, knew their responsibilities and got the job done.”
Since the Marines came from various reserve stations throughout the U.S., many of them met for the first time during predeployment training; however, the company performed like they had been together for years.
“These Marines are motivated and very well disciplined,” Moore said. “What they have done on this deployment is nothing short of a miracle. They accomplished their mission and did so exceptionally well.”
“The Marines did not miss a beat,” said Gibbs. “They worked as effectively as any active duty company. I am exceptionally pleased and very proud.”