CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan --
“Maintenance is the lifeblood of the battalion,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Troy C. Havard, maintenance officer, Support Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 4, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward).
If maintenance is the lifeblood, then the motor transportation mechanics of Support Co. are the beating heart.
“[The Marines in the maintenance bay] do the majority of the maintenance work in the battalion,” said Cpl. Bryan M. Robertson, motor transportation mechanic, Support Co., CLB-4. “We fix almost everything unless it is very minor, and then the line companies can do it.”
The Marines faced a rapid adjustment period at the beginning of the deployment when they assumed their maintenance responsibilities. An integral part of this adjustment involved familiarizing themselves with new equipment.
“One of the challenges has been learning how to fix [AMK31 7-Ton Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacements] and [Logistics Vehicle System Replacements] since we don’t have them [at our permanent duty station],” said Robertson. “The help out a lot. We can ask them for help, and they will show us the best way to fix something.”
The FSRs are civilian contractors provided by the manufacturers of the battalion’s tactical vehicles. They serve as subject matter experts who provide assistance and advice regarding maintenance and repairs.
According to Robertson, the maintenance Marines quickly adapted and became more proficient as the deployment continued.
“When we fix [the vehicles] now, we [try to] make it so we don’t ever have to see that truck in the maintenance bay again,” said Cpl. Matthew L. Hagans, motor transport mechanic, Support Co., CLB-4.
Keeping the vehicles well maintained and fully operational provides a safer operating environment for the battalion’s motor vehicle operators who conduct combat logistics patrols throughout Helmand Province.
“It helps them accomplish the mission and keeps them from having to dismount while outside the wire to rig a vehicle for tow or try to fix it,” said Hagans.
Additionally, the mechanics also take turns participating in combat logistics patrols to provide the motor transportation platoons maintenance expertise while they conduct their mission.
The Marines in the maintenance bay keep up with their heavy workload by combining personal initiative and a hard work ethic, said Robertson.
“There are not enough [non-commissioned officers just] to supervise [the Marines] all the time, so it helps out that they just hop right in to the work and get the job done,” said Robertson. “Since we are all mechanics, we have always been the type of people who like to learn by reaching out and touching something. Having that kind of personality is important to being successful here.”
The repairs the maintenance Marines perform can keep them working from morning until late at night. But the maintenance should not be overlooked, said Havard.
“Without the maintenance we perform, the battalion would not be able to execute the mission,” said Havard.