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Private first class Joseph Castronova, a member of Combat Logistics Battalion 13's Landing Support Team, mans the M240G medium machine gun during a training convoy at Eagle Mountain, Calif. Castronova was one of hundreds of battalion Marines pulled from their normal duties and tasked with varying convoy tactical positions. The week-long training evolution took place Jan. 16-21.

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CLB 13 hits High Desert ghost town for convoy ops training

21 Jan 2007 | Story and Photos By Sgt. Andy Hurt

EAGLE MOUNTAIN, Calif. (Jan. 21, 2007) – “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.”

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Marine Cpl. Ryan Frost, Ground Sensor Team leader, covers sectors of fire during a convoy while conducting training with Combat Logistics Battalion 13 at Eagle Mountain, Calif., Jan. 21. Frost and a handful of Marines from the 13th Marine Expeditonary Unit Command Element were on hand to participate with CLB 13.

Corporal Anthony Kaiser, a field radio operator with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit's Command Element, conducts a radio check prior to a convoy training lane Jan. 21 at Eagle Mountain, Calif. Kaiser was tasked as the Communications Chief for Bravo Company during the week-long training evolution.

Private first class Joseph Castronova, a member of Combat Logistics Battalion 13's Landing Support Team, mans the M240G medium machine gun during a training convoy at Eagle Mountain, Calif. Castronova was one of hundreds of battalion Marines pulled from their normal duties and tasked with varying convoy tactical positions. The week-long training evolution took place Jan. 16-21.


13th Marine Expeditionary Unit