CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq -- While Marines from units around the world are found in locations throughout Iraq, one battalion here has managed to put them all in one place.
Combat Logistics Battalion 5-2, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward), is made of Marines and sailors from 56 separate battalions – active and reserve – representing each of the three Marine Expeditionary Forces and Marine Forces Reserve.
The battalion provides logistical support to the command element, Regimental Combat Team-5, through personal health services, transportation, maintenance and engineering, but it’s the unit’s diverse composition that sets it apart from most others in the Marine Corps.
“The most stable unit is that which is comprised of young and old, experienced and inexperienced,” said Maj. Matt R. Seay, executive officer, CLB-5-2. “The more diverse the unit, the less prone it is to overreaction and stress.”
Due in large part to the employment of standard operating procedures (SOPs) prior to moving into the Iraqi theater, the battalion has been able to operate smoothly since its inception, added Seay, a 34-year-old resident of Carlsbad, Calif.
“The environment here is a lot different than it is in the (western Al Anbar province),” he said. “Here we provide support in Fallujah, as far west as Habbaniyah and as far north as Karmah.” Close proximity to these locations enables the battalion to complete its supply routes within a day, but with more than 15 outposts in its area of responsibility, “it’s critical for everyone to be on the same sheet of music.”
For example, Marines with Transportation Support (TS) Company leave the relative safety of Camp Fallujah on a daily basis, supplying the infantry battalions who live and work “outside the wire.”
Strict adherence to SOPs while on these re-supply missions is paramount, especially since Marines in the company come from different units and may have slightly different ways of doing things, said Seay.
While major differences must be standardized, Lance Cpl. Samantha Garza, a motor-transportation mechanic with TS Company, said she’s also noticed how the mix of Marines adds variety to the company and contributes to its overall effectiveness.
“I must have met a Marine from every state since I’ve been out here – even Alaska,” said Garza, a 20-year-old from Queens, N.Y. “I’ve really learned a lot from all of them.”
Capt. Jessica L. Henry Spayde, adjutant with Headquarters Company, agrees that unit diversity can provide a benefit.
“We all have different ways of doing business where we’re from, so we don’t have that ‘This-is-the-way-we’ve-always-done-it’ mentality,” said Henry Spayde, a Grinnell, Iowa, native.
She left her position as the commanding officer of Engineer Maintenance Company, 4th Maintenance Battalion, 4th Marine Logistics Group (a reserve unit in Omaha, Neb.), to volunteer for this deployment.
Working with reservists is a new experience for many of the active-duty Marines. “It’s different, but we have to mesh well and work together if we want to be successful,” said Staff Sgt. Trocon A. Brumskine, administration chief with Headquarters Company.
Creating battalion SOPs and getting to know one another through conversations at the camp’s dining facilities has helped the hodgepodge of Marines grow as a unit, but daily mission accomplishment ultimately stems from “the professionalism and experience of the individual Marines,” said Lt. Col. Gregg Moore, commanding officer, CLB-5-2.
“I’ve been absolutely pleased and stunned with how we’ve all come together,” added the Lindenhurst, Ill. native.
Combat Logistics Battalion 6, out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., is scheduled to relieve CLB-5-2 in March.