MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. – Lance Cpl. Mitchell Burri stands silhouetted, grasping his weapon while scanning his surroundings. Beside him, Lance Cpl. Archorey Baker stands watch, guarding supplies and equipment essential for the training of the units they were supporting. The two Marines are part of Combat Logistics Battalion 5, Combat Logistics Regiment 1, 1st Marine Logistics Group, a battalion that worked tirelessly to provide logistical support to numerous units during Exercise Steel Knight 2014.
Approximately 240 Marines with CLB-5, CLR-1, 1st MLG, provided maintenance, supply and communication services to enable the Ground Combat Element, 11th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, and the Air Combat Element , 3rd Marine Air Support Squadron, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, to come together as part of the Marine Air Ground Task Force during Exercise Steel Knight 2014, aboard Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif., Dec. 09 – 16, 2013.
“It is an exercise of a massive scale,” said Master Sgt. Enmanuel Tejada, operations chief, CLB-5, CLR-1, 1st MLG. “Throughout the year, we conduct numerous exercises to prepare for supporting a large portion of the Marine Corps.”
The Marines of CLB-5, CLR-1, 1st MLG, operated from different sites across MAGCC Twentynine Palms, setting up command centers and coordinating resupply convoys by ground and air, as well as setting up a maintenance bay for gear and equipment requiring repair.
Helicopter Support Teams attached to CLB-5 from Combat Logistics Regiment 17, 1st MLG, transported M777 Howitzers to artillery Marines on the frontlines. Motor Transportation Company , CLB-5, delivered food and fuel using ground convoys, sometimes taking as long as 15 hours to move through difficult terrain and weather conditions.
“Every day we have to support the units out there with food, fuel and ammunition through the Motor Transportation Company,” said Tejada, a native of Brentwood, N.Y. “Things change every minute and every hour.”
Tejada added that it was important for the Marines to exercise flexibility amidst uncertainty and to provide innovative solutions for unexpected challenges.
Supply Company augmented Support Company, providing heavy equipment, maintenance, utilities and other resources necessary for the battalion to maintain a high operational tempo.
“We provide a wide range of supplies and provide maintenance, repairs and spare parts to vehicles and equipment that are essential for the forward operating units to accomplish their missions,” said Gunnery Sgt. Raymundo Perez, supply chief with CLB-5, CLR-1, 1st MLG, and native of Porterville, Calif.
Headquarters and Service Company established the framework for the exercise by setting up the combat operations center, which provided the battalion’s operational hub and kept things running smoothly, despite an ever-changing environment.
“During Steel Knight, our primary role as H&S Co. is to provide command and control to the battalion, establishing multiple forms of communication with the units we are supporting and continuously improving our position, so we can support the 1st Marine Division,” said Capt. Charles Cain, H&S Co. commanding officer, CLB-5, CLR-1, 1st MLG.
Within the combat operations center, numerous groups worked together in a dynamic environment, requiring Marines to stay flexible and work outside of their comfort areas.
“We have six different sections in H&S Co., which are administration, intelligence, operations, logistics, supply, communications and the Battalion Aid Station with our corpsmen,” said Cain, a native of Salem, Ore. “In addition, we were also augmented with a Shock Trauma Platoon from 1st Medical Battalion. With so many parts coming together, we definitely have to keep an open mind and communicate and coordinate to determine how we function as a unit.”
The three companies worked hand-in-hand to provide the logistical support that enabled the units participating in Steel Knight to work seamlessly. Even as a single battalion, CLB-5 proved its capability to provide support on a large scale.
Back in the command tent, two new Marines replaced Baker and Burri to guard supplies and equipment, keeping accountability and ensuring forward units received the materials they needed to be effective. Before retiring from their post, Baker and Burri were reminded by their leadership of the importance of their mission, emphasizing that without everyone working so diligently, Steel Knight would not have been possible.