MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. – Nine armored vehicles drive down a dirt road at nightfall on a mission to pick up personnel. The vehicles come to a complete stop as they spot a possible improvised explosive device during the seemingly routine convoy. Each vehicle maneuvers in a way that both blocks outside vehicles from accessing a possible danger zone and provides security.
This was just one of the many simulated scenarios Marines with General Support Motor Transportation Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 1, 1st Marine Logistics Group, reacted to while on a convoy during Exercise Steel Knight 2014 aboard Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif., Dec. 13.
“When you’re training tactically to conduct convoys, you have to prepare for certain ‘enemy’ possibilities,” said 1st Lt. Josh Reid, platoon commander, 2nd Platoon, GSMT Co., CLR-1, 1st MLG.
Before Marines left to conduct the convoy, they received multiple sustainment training evolutions to ensure their immediate action drills ran efficiently.
“We had a lot of classroom time where we drew scenarios out on a board just to give the Marines a visual,” said Reid, a Tecumseh, Kan., native. “We’ve done a lot of walks where they were in vehicle order, but on foot, and they executed the necessary steps as if they were in vehicles.”
The Marines became familiar with the execution of their IA drills, preparing them for potential dangerous situations further down the road.
“We gave the Marines cards with different scenarios right before we headed out on the convoy,” explained Reid. “They didn’t get a chance to talk to each other about what their particular vehicle’s situation was going to be. The other vehicles were surprised by what happened and had to make a plan on the spot.”
As a supporting element, GSMT Co. conducts training like this to ensure they are ready for anything they may face in future operations while providing their services to other units.
“These Marines will have the necessary skills and abilities to operate in a variety of environments successfully,” said Reid. “They’ll just generally be prepared to react to whatever they may encounter.”
Even after becoming comfortable with the training in their practical applications on foot, the Marines still faced many challenges, especially after sunset.
“The most difficult part is keeping proper dispersion between vehicles at night because your depth perception is altered,” said Lance Cpl. Justin Walton, motor transportation operator and refueler, 2nd Plt., GSMT Co., CLR-1, 1st MLG. “You really have to pay attention to the distance between vehicles.”
Challenges aside, the Marines with GSMT Co. walked away with knowledge that will keep them proficient at their jobs while serving in a dangerous environment.
“This training is important to know because it helps save lives. I know how to set up a perimeter with my vehicle now and if there are any IEDs, I’ll know the procedures in order to execute the mission,” said Walton of Gary, Ind. “It’s good training, and I’m glad to be part of Exercise Steel Knight.”