Covering Sixes: Mobile infantry force a cavalry to convoys under fire

31 May 2004 | Staff Sgt. Bill Lisbon 1st Marine Logistics Group

Keep the foot on the gas.That's the mission of the logisticians of the 1st Force Service Support Group who brave highways littered with roadside bombs and flanked by trigger-happy insurgents daily in order to haul supplies across western Iraq to Marines who need them.Even though every convoy packs loads of firepower -- from heavy machine guns to individual Marines with their rifles at the ready -- and uses it when required, the procession rarely stops to chase down enemy attackers who may return to fight another day.Marine military policemen, who provide security to convoys, said they know anti-coalition forces watching from their rooftops know this.Asking for assistance, they recently approached the leaders of 3rd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, a reserve infantry battalion who has two companies guarding Camp Taqaddum's perimeter and patrolling the villages and countryside just beyond.The idea they came up with was to bring along vehicle-borne grunts with their extra firepower, primed to pounce on any would-be ambushers harassing the supply train.On May 25, 2004, the force tested the tactic by teaming up with a convoy from A Company, Combat Service Support Group 15 and the MPs of B Company, 2nd Military Police Battalion, all based here.While neither the convoy nor the reaction force encountered anything hostile, the trial run showed that the teams could work successfully together. "It's just good to know you're not out there alone," said Staff Sgt. William J. Banks, platoon sergeant with A Company, and a 32-year-old native of Brooklyn, N.Y.Furthermore, some see the mobile force as a sign of things to come.With the June 30 deadline to transfer sovereignty to Iraqi authorities swiftly approaching, Marines' role in the region may change in order to relinquish some responsibility for maintaining security and stability to the Iraqi army, civil defense corps and police force. However, supply convoys will still need to continue rolling as long as American forces remain."People are always going to need food. People are always going to need water. People are always going to need ammo," said Capt. Thomas S. Little, 33, assistant operations officer for 3/24 and a native of Littleton, Colo. "We're still going to have to provide security on the roads."For now, operational tempo will determine how often the reaction force will be called to bolster convoys.Despite a tranquil Fallujah, Company A drivers have been trucking supplies as much now as they were during the height of operations there, said Cpl. Matthew P. Meier, a 23-year-old vehicle operator from Munith, Mich.The company's drivers alone have logged more than 275,000 miles behind the wheel since their arrival in Iraq a few months ago, said Capt. Kathy R. Lee-Wood, company commander and a 33-year-old native of Pomona, N.J.Meanwhile, insurgents continue their attempts at hindering the movement of Marines throughout the Al Anbar Province with ambushes and improvised explosives. Yet, convoys continue to punch through assailments with guns blazing, and now such cooperation with the infantry may make it even easier to keep tires turning and supplies from stalling.
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1st Marine Logistics Group