TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. - “All vehicles halt,” said the convoy commander over the radio. “Be advised, Vic 3 has taken indirect fire. Confirmed chemical weapons have been used.” Immediately, Pfc. Justin Orovsky dismounted from the Humvee and signaled for the other Marines to don their gas masks. Two Marines dismounted from the lead vehicle to provide security while the turret gunner kept his machine gun on a swivel.
The Marines established a perimeter around the convoy and performed the necessary procedures repair the damaged vehicle. Operating in rough terrain, harsh weather conditions and dealing with possible equipment malfunctions were just a few of the challenges that the Marines of Combat Logistics Battalion 5, Combat Logistics Regiment 1, 1st Marine Logistics Group, faced during this training event aboard Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif., Dec. 6, 2013.
This was conducted as part of training leading up to Exercise Steel Knight 2014, an annual large-scale exercise designed to prepare 1st Marine Division for deployment as the Ground Combat Element of a Marine Air-Ground Task Force supported by 1st MLG and 3rd Marine Air Wing. Combined, the MAGTF is able to deploy and respond in a timely manner to any situation across the globe.
As logistics units in support of the MAGTF, 1st MLG’s convoys are required to provide supplies to the frontlines, overcoming any obstacles and threats along the way. This tactical convoy training is an essential part of their skillset.
“Convoys can come across certain risks such as indirect fire and chemical warfare,” said Sgt. Brandon Edgerton, convoy commander, Headquarters and Support Company, CLB-5, CLR-1, 1st MLG. “There are also internal risks such as vehicles breaking down, so we really need to keep our Marines in a combat mindset at all times.”
The training provided the Marines with some experience on how to operate in an expeditionary environment.
“Four vehicles and 16 Marines from H & S Company participated in the exercise,” said Edgerton, a native of San Antonio, Texas. “We have to make sure that our convoys stay on point, maintaining dispersion and good communication with each other.”
The convoy covered approximately 6 - 10 kilometers during the exercise and faced different types of terrain, including soft sand and large hills. Each driver was required to coordinate with the convoy commander about the speed and the location of their vehicle.
“The lead vehicle needs to be vigilant, being the first one to take any hits and the one who probes from the front,” said Lance Cpl. Mitchell Burri, lead vehicle driver and vehicle commander, H & S Co., CLB-5, CLR-1, 1st MLG. “You have to be constantly aware of your surroundings, [maintaining] a combat mindset at all times.”
The training provided the Marines of CLB-5 with experience on what to expect when they are deployed to expeditionary environments and how to support forward deployed units, such as 1st Marine Division, during operations and exercises like Steel Knight.