HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan — Marines and sailors with 3rd Platoon, Company A, Combat Logistics Battalion 4, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward), provided sustained logistics support to Regimental Combat Team 6, north of Musa Qala, May 27 to June 11 during Operation Branding Iron.
The platoon transported supplies and equipment to and from a rearming, refueling and resupply point, or R3P, and provided troop transport and vehicle recovery capabilities.
“Our role is to provide direct tactical logistics support to (2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 6) in support of their operations,” said Capt. Donald L. Hotchkiss, company commander, Company A, CLB-4. “We provide a reach-back capability to transport critical classes of supply and essential equipment in order for the battalion to continue sustained combat operations.”
Marines and sailors with 2nd Bn., 5th Marines, used the R3P site to rest and refit during the operation.
“The R3P site serves as a forward supply point in immediate proximity to the forward lines of troops,” said 1st Lt. Benjamin Gutek, platoon commander, 3rd Plt., Company A, CLB-4. “We were able to transport supplies … rapidly and accurately because we were in such close proximity.”
The mission marks the first time during the deployment CLB-4 dedicated an entire motor transport platoon with internal command and control, security and recovery capability directly to an infantry battalion in support of a named operation, said Hotchkiss.
CLB-4 Marines and sailors adjusted to change supply and equipment needs quickly to fulfill operational requirements.
“The needs of the infantry (constantly) changed as the operation progressed, and it is important for us to be flexible to meet their needs,” said Gutek.
The high operational tempo was maintained despite an increase in the improvised explosive device threat and stiff enemy resistance during CLB-4 movements, said Gutek.
The Marines responded to the high threat level in the area of operations by applying fundamental training.
“This mission gave the Marines a reality check, a reminder that they still need to retain and rely on the skills they learned in boot camp and (Marine combat training),” said Gutek.
Marines dug fighting holes into the rocky ground of the R3P site for protection while they slept. During the day Marines endured intense heat.
“The hotter it is, the more of a challenge it is to maintain your hygiene … and it is 120-plus degrees out here during the day, so people are sweating more and the dust starts coating everything,” said Sgt. Daniel B. Baker, loadmaster, 3rd Plt., Company A, CLB-4. “If you don’t stay clean, you risk getting sick. Once one person gets sick, it spreads because everyone is living in such tight quarters. When we start losing operators to sickness, it degrades our ability to achieve mission accomplishment.”
The direct support operation also marked the longest CLB-4 mission to date.
The platoon accomplished its company commander’s goal by overcoming all challenges that arose during the operation to accomplish their mission, said Gutek.
“For the Marines and sailors participating in this operation, they see what the warfighter goes through on a daily basis,” said Hotchkiss. “The most important factor is the renewed energy they bring back to the Marines who have not had the opportunity to provide direct tactical logistics support to the forward lines of an operation.”