CLB 13 hits High Desert ghost town for convoy ops training

21 Jan 2006 | Sgt. Andy Hurt

“It was perfect,” said Cpl. Robert Noah, “there’s nothing bad I can say.”

Noah, a 22 year-old mechanic from Huntland, Tenn., was speaking of the recent Convoy Operations Training undertaken by Combat Logistics Battalion 13 here.

The battalion, which serves as the Logistics Combat Element for the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, occupied the desolate mining area Jan. 16 for a week of hard lessons in escalation of force, convoy organization and convoy security in a massive effort to refine Standard Operating Procedures.

Pressing 18-hour days under harsh, wintry conditions, the battalion forged a new sense of brotherhood, and, emphasizing small-unit leadership, improved combat tactics, techniques and procedures.

Though Marines like Noah were forced to dig deep to instill order in the midst of the chaotic convoy lanes in a simulated Middle-Eastern village complete with explosions and small-arms fire, warriors in the upper echelon of the battalion saw massive improvement on a larger scale.

“This opened their eyes,” said Gunnery Sgt. Travis Schrowe, CLB-13 motor transportation chief.

“When everyone saw how everything comes together, the planning, security, leadership… the Marines got a lot out of it.”

In almost perfect harmony with Schrowe was 1st Sgt. Rob Baker, CLB-13 Sergeant Major, who normally manages a plethora of small, individual sections. Baker had the daunting task of bringing together sections to form companies and platoons the battalion “wouldn’t see in a normal field environment.”

“Normally,” said Baker, “our battalion would be providing support for someone else.  In this case, (1st Marine Logistics Group) supported us, and we were free to focus primarily on training.”

Baker was determined to get the most from his battalion throughout the week, and in conjunction with small-unit leaders, directed that hip-pocket classes on tactics and techniques would be given during any down time. The resulting 18-hour work days, said Baker, produced amazing results.

“We got to see the true side of a Marine this week … and it was a good test for the battalion.”

Not only was the unit tasked with learning and refining SOPs, it was also evaluated by an instructor staff from 1st Marine Division Schools Combat Skills Training. The instructor staff was alongside the unit day after day, and, according to Baker, brought CLB-13 to a higher level of combat readiness.

“The instructor staff was awesome. They looked at our (Command Operations Center), communications, escalation of force, convoy tactics, everything,” he said.

“We needed additional training and the battalion will be a lot better off now … and anytime you can fire rounds is a good time.”

For more information about Combat Logistics Battalion 13, and the warriors of the Fighting 13th MEU, visit the unit's Web site at www.usmc.mil/13thmeu.
13th Marine Expeditionary Unit