MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif -- As another rotation of Marine forces are deploying to Iraq, Marine reserves from around the country will be filling the ranks and heading to combat operations with their active-duty counterparts.
One such group of Marine reservist from the 4th Landing Support Battalion gathered on Camp Pendleton recently to familiarize themselves with some of the weapons and gear they will carry during their upcoming deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Approximately 100 members of the 4th LSB traveled from cities like Seattle, Savannah, Ga. and Charleston, S.C., to cross-train in skills like enhanced marksmanship, rear area security and life-saving techniques to ensure a successful deployment.
The Marines will serve under the banner of the 1st Marine Logistics Group when they deploy next month to the Al Anbar Province and provide logistical support for the I Marine Expeditionary Force.
"We facilitate the movement of gear and personnel (in Iraq)," said Gunnery Sgt. Terry T. Henderson, operations chief with the Charleston, S.C.-based reserve unit.
As the lines between the frontline and rear area continue to blur in Iraq, these Marines are preparing themselves for any combat situation they may find themselves in.
Combat service support Marines could easily find themselves in situations that force them to call upon combat skills they need to have mastered, said Gunnery Sgt. Shane M. Duhe, the operations chief with Brigade Service Support Group 1 and two-time Iraqi Freedom veteran.
By being a mobilized reservist, the Marines no longer drill one weekend a month, but assume the role of active duty Marines.
The training these Marines are receiving gives them the chance to hone techniques like shooting the M-16A2 service rifle with gas masks and other skills not easily available to be arranged when conducting weekend drill.
Easily distinguishable from other Marines by the 1-by-1-inch red cloth patches sewn onto their digital uniforms, the landing support specialists play key roles in logistics operations by performing tasks involved with the reception and distribution of critical supplies.
The history of the red patch dates back to World War II, when Marines of the Pioneer Battalion stated the need of a distinct marking or uniform to distinguish the support personnel working on the Japanese beaches from the troops who were moving inland on the assaults, according to the Marine Forces Reserve Web site.
More than 60 years later, the 'red-patch' Marines are now also responsible for external helicopter lifts, operating sea and airports used for embarkation and ensuring inbound and outbound equipment arrive at its destinations.
As these 'red-patch' Marines are in the midst of their training, they are excited to participate in the Global War on Terrorism.
"The mood of the Marines I'm attached to is high. They work hard," said Cpl. Jacob A. Mintz a landing support specialist from Charleston S.C.
The mission of the I MEF is shifting from combating anti-Iraqi forces to supporting the security and self-governance of Iraq. Many Marines, including the landing support specialists, will find themselves working alongside and training their Iraqi counterparts during their deployment.
"The commander's intent across the board is to train and mentor the Iraqi forces. Our logistics Marines in theater will mentor and teach them how to support themselves (logistically) and conduct combat service support roles," Duhe added.
A busy schedule is still ahead for the Marines from 4th LSB as they continue to prepare for Iraq. A variety of pre-deployment briefs, gear checks and more training will keep them busy in the coming weeks.
The reservists will be broken up and assigned to units within the 1st MLG and perform a variety of missions once in Iraq.