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Taking a peak at the levels of a water container, Lance Cpl. Paul W. Schwartz, a 21-year-old native of Meridian, Idaho, with Combat Logistics Company 115, re-supplies a Marine outpost around Fallujah with fresh water May 24, 2006. Schwartz and the rest of Combat Logistics Battalion 5 serve as a logistical support unit in the Al Anbar Province, supporting American and Iraqi forces operating here. On major re-supply convoys, CLC 115 will deliver food, water, fuel and other equipment or supplies to multiple locations in one trip outside the security of Camp Fallujah.

Photo by Cpl. Daniel J. Redding

Convoy operations a daily grind for Marines in Fallujah

31 May 2006 | Cpl. Daniel J. Redding

Standing in the warmth of the Iraqi night, the Marines wait for their brief, in which the details of the night's convoy into the city of Fallujah will be addressed.

They complete the required maintenance checks and prepare their machine guns for the convoy that will take place in a few short hours. Radios are handed out and communication is confirmed for all of the vehicles lined up, ready to leave the security of the camp.

Staff Sgt. Wesley O. Turner calls his Marines in close to pass critical information each Marine needs to know before leaving. Frequencies on their communication gear, rules for firing on potential enemy positions, and actions to take if hit by a roadside bomb are just a few of the topics Turner explains to prepare his Marines as they head out on a major re-supply mission - again.

During the last three months, Combat Logistics Company 115, CLC-115 for short, has performed hundreds of convoys and other missions in and around Fallujah. Such convoys are the lifeline of support for forces throughout the Al Anbar province as they deliver critical supplies and equipment to coalition forces in need.

Turner, a 26-year-old native of Kansas City, Mo., radiates an attitude of continual preparedness to the Marines.

"We can go out (on convoys) a thousand times, and nothing will happen; the one we do go out on and something happens, will we be ready?" he asks them.

Tonight's convoy is large, making several stops in one trip.  It's 1st Platoon's duty to make sure the resupply mission is accomplished.

The region is well known for insurgent activity, so many operations - such as 1st Platoon's convoy tonight - are performed with minimal lighting so enemy forces cannot pick the Marines out of the darkness.

Using little more than a flashlight they deliver thousands of gallons of fuel and water along with two high-volume containers of food to Marines serving at smaller forward operating bases and entry control points throughout Fallujah.

Coordinating a massive convoy like tonight's is not an impossible feat, Turner said; communication between those receiving the supplies and those delivering them is critical.

Elsewhere in the region, CLC-115's 3rd Platoon conducted back-to-back convoys and have several runs, as supply convoys are sometimes called, scheduled for the next day.

The company, which has four platoons, has traveled well over 65,000 miles in the three months they have been in country.

A part of Combat Logistics Battalion 5, the company's principal task is to distribute crucial supplies to Regimental Combat Team 5, the Marine infantry unit responsible for conducting operations in Fallujah and its surrounding areas.  The infantry unit is also playing a major role in assisting the development of the fledgling Iraqi Army and police.

"Without us being able to do the missions we do, RCT 5's ability to equip and train the Iraqi forces - whether army or police - would definitely be jeopardized," said Capt. Scott A. Zelesnikar, the commanding officer of CLC-115 and a 33-year-old native of Rome, N.Y.

Turner, who has participated in close to 50 convoys since arriving here in March, said his Marines "know their job like the backs of their hands." They perform rehearsal after rehearsal of the convoy operations they conduct here, in addition to the pre-deployment training they received back in the States, he said.

For those Marines traveling without the night vision equipment, the streets of Iraq are shrouded in darkness; their actions are done from memory as their repetitious preparation and training is paying off.

Everyone in the unit knows what each other's roles and abilities are which is critical to a large convoy's successful completion, said Turner.

As the sun comes up, tonight's convoy returns to Camp Fallujah, the task successfully completed once again. Within a day, the platoon will likely be on the road again.

For Turner and the rest of the Marines, it's just another day at work.

Email Cpl. Redding at daniel.redding@cssemnf-wiraq.usmc.mil.
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