HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan --
The ability of the Intermediate Maintenance Activity to quickly fix broken trucks keeps Marines and sailors from 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, Regimental Combat Team 5 in the fight.
Getting a damaged truck to Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan for repair and then back to its original unit can take weeks. To expedite this process, a detachment of maintenance and supply Marines is positioned at Forward Operating Base Edinburgh and runs one of four IMA lots in Helmand Province by receiving broken vehicles, fixing them and returning them to their operators in just a day or two.
“The biggest threats out here are [improvised explosive devices],” said Sgt. Nicholas Orwig, maintenance chief, IMA Detachment, 1st Maintenance Battalion (-) (Reinforced), 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward) at FOB Edinburgh. “We fix the trucks as fast as we can and put them back on the road as soon as possible."
Members of the IMA lot at FOB Edinburgh support 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines as well as all other military units aboard the FOB and its surrounding area.
“Our average turnaround time is two and a half days which is amazing,” said Staff Sgt. Melquiades Montalvo, detachment chief, IMA Detachment, 1st Main. Bn. (-) (Rein.) “We see a lot of battle damaged [mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles] that need axle and [suspension part] replacements. We usually keep a good stock of those parts handy so when the trucks come in they can be repaired in a day.”
Without the IMA lot at FOB Edinburgh, time would be lost transporting broken equipment to Camp Leatherneck.
“We’re talking about weeks for the maintenance turnaround if the trucks had to go all the way to Leatherneck,” said Montalvo. “If we have the parts here, the truck can be repaired and given back to [2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, Regimental Combat Team 5] within a couple days."
The team is composed of generator mechanics, motor transport mechanics, refrigeration unit mechanics, heavy equipment mechanics and heavy equipment operators. Though they come from an array of job fields, their goal and motivation is the same.
“We all support the area of operations,” said Lance Cpl. Sterling Stroud, an engineer equipment mechanic, IMA Detachment, FOB Edinburgh, 1st Maint. Bn. (-) (Rein.) “I love my job. Being able to get dirty taking out parts and replacing them to give back a working truck to its operator helps ensure mission accomplishment.”
As the senior Marine in charge of the detachment, Montalvo attributes a large part of the unit’s high morale to seeing the fruits of their labor.
“Back at Pendleton, you fix things, but you never see the way you impact the Marines,” said Montalvo. “Here on deployment, when they do the work, they are able to see the end results of their efforts. When the Marines show their appreciation for getting their trucks returned quickly or getting their air conditioning units fixed, it strengthens the morale of my guys."
With this as the source of their motivation, the small detachment works well together and gets the job done efficiently.
“This is the A-team,” said Montalvo. “These guys have exceeded my expectations with the quality of their maintenance as well as their initiative. The [Non Commissioned Officers] take charge, and they’ve put me out of a job.”
Despite spending seven long, hot days a week working together nonstop, the Marines still enjoy each other’s company during downtime.
“We have pretty good camaraderie,” said Stroud. “We have barbecues and play football and volleyball. It’s a good group.”
Whether it’s a personal air conditioning unit or a military vehicle that needs repair, the IMA team will continue to support FOB Edinburgh servicemembers with their array of individual skills, doing their part to keep the mission going.