BARSTOW, Calif. - Marines with Combat Logistics Regiment 17 (CLR 17), 1st Marine Logistics Group, participated in training with soldiers from 171st Movement Control Company in railway operations on Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Calif., in order to improve their unit's effectiveness, Jan. 30 – Feb. 9.
Whenever a military unit goes somewhere, be it training exercise or a combat zone, it has a lot of mission essential equipment that needs to go with it.
For example, a tank battalion would be useless without its tanks. Someone has to figure out how to move them, what is needed to move them, transport them to where they need to go, and then unload them once they arrive. One solution to this is railways.
While the Marines with CLR 17 have plenty of experience with managing port operations, beach operations, or air operations, due to the infrastructures available for them to work with, they have little to no experience in railway operations, said Marine Sgt. Daven Rowell, noncommissioned officer in charge of the Marines training here.
The Marines learned how to organize and run a railway loading and unloading operation, explained Rowell. This involved receiving and organizing vehicles and equipment to be loaded on a train cart, calculating the amount and type of train cars needed, the order the equipment will be loaded on, prepping the train cars to load the equipment, and finally loading and securing the equipment on the railcars for transportation.
Originally the plan was to give the Marines two days of classroom training and then the more experienced soldiers would supervise them during the hands-on portion, said Army Staff Sgt. Jason Simonek, movement supervisor with 171st MCC, and the person who trained the Marines in railway operations. However, after only one day of supervision, they were able to operate independently.
“These guys picked it up so quickly I was able to release them to actually go out and run operations (by themselves) and they have been out here working flawlessly,” Simonek added.
This specific operation provided a unique opportunity for the Marines to get hands-on experience in both loading and unloading equipment on rail, said Chad Hildebrandt, railway operations supervisor here. Typically, an incoming unit’s equipment is unloaded one day, and the outgoing unit’s equipment is loaded and sent out another, or vice versa. This operation had to deal with an incoming and outgoing units' equipment at the same time, doubling the work load.
The service members worked extra hours until the mission was complete, Hildebrandt added.
“This was my first railway operation, but the way these soldiers taught it, (the information) sunk right in,” said Rowell. “It’s all thanks to the soldiers out here; they did a great job teaching us.”