FALLUJAH, Iraq --
FALLUJAH, Iraq (July 7, 2008) – When Marines are busy with the mission at hand, visits to the exchanges take a back seat to mission accomplishment.
To alleviate this, the mobile exchange brings the goods to them, so no matter where they are they can get the goods they desire.
The mobile exchange is a trailer stocked from top-to-bottom with just about anything a Marine may need. Anything from hygiene products, magazines, movies, tools, knives, snacks and drinks can be found in the convenient mobile exchange.
There are four locations in al-Anbar Province that send out mobile exchanges to the Marines in the more remote areas. The exchange has its own security element, so they can operate independently and reach more Marines.
Staff Sgt. Ric A. Anikanov, Western Exchange Services Team Leader, Headquarters and Service Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 1, 1st Marine Logistics Group, is in charge of one of the many trailers. He makes sure Marines have the opportunity to get what they need despite risks that come with being outside the wire.
He is assisted by his driver who strives to keep them out of harm’s way.
“My job as the driver is to place him where he is as safe as possible,” said Sgt. Eliezer Perez, a 22-year-old mobile exchange driver and line noncommissioned officer, Motor Transport Company, CLB-1.
Perez, from Vineland, N.J., stressed the importance of making sure everybody can get in and out of the exchange trailer while staying in a safe environment.
“(Having a mobile exchange come to us) is easier with all the work we’re doing out here,” said Sgt. Edward J. Mitchell, a 35-year-old squad leader with 1st squad, 3rd platoon, Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1. “To get the Marines up (to Fallujah) to get what they need would be a logistical nightmare.”
Mitchell said his Marines also purchase snacks and microwavable food to add variety to their diets.
“It’s just a break from the monotony of the same food,” Mitchell said.
“A lot of these guys get energy drinks because of the hours they work, some of them need it,” said Staff Sgt. Alan E. Nichols, 27, from Toomsboro, Ga., platoon sergeant for 1st platoon, Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1.
Many Marines also purchased movies and speakers so they can enjoy some entertainment during their down-time, Nichols said.
Marines in Combat Outpost Blackhawk asked for blankets, a rarity for Iraq, and Anikanov was happy to oblige making things a little easier for the service members at the COP.
Nichols added that when they bring a disbursing Marine with the exchange trucks, it makes things a lot more convenient. That way, Marines can have access to their funds and deal with their allotments.
“I’m here for one purpose and that’s for every Marine to get through this truck,” Anikanov said.