NEAR KARMAH, Iraq --
Marines of Combat Logistics Battalion 13 have taken a lock-tight grip on the maintenance of vehicles and equipment used by the entire 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
Since the MEU’s arrival in Iraq early June, CLB-13 has been a vital component in support of counterinsurgency operations being conducted throughout Al Anbar province.
Combat Logistics Battalion 13’s maintenance detachment is made up of four independent sections, and each play a crucial role in keeping MEU vehicles up and running.
“We’ve become a big part of the support team for the MEU over here,” said Gunnery Sgt. Steven Aylesworth, CLB-13 maintenance chief.
The first section in the detachment is motor transportation maintenance. It is responsible for maintaining the trucks of CLB-13 and the MEU here and at combat outposts. These Marines are often found underneath trucks fixing a broken transmission or replacing an engine. They also repair vehicles that have been hit by Improvised Explosive Devices.
“Unfortunately, most of the vehicles we get here are in very bad shape, but we try our best to fix them as quickly as possible to get them back into the fight,” said Sgt. Sergio Mijares, CLB-13 motor transport maintenance chief.
The second section of the detachment is ordnance maintenance. This section repairs night vision devices, scopes, tanks and Amphibious Assault Vehicles. They also retrieve all vehicles within the MEU’s area of operations that are damaged beyond on-the-spot repair. For big vehicles, such as M1A1 tanks, the Marines use the M88 tank retriever. To recover smaller vehicles and AAVs, Marines use the R7 AAV retriever.
“These Marines are a big asset to the entire MEU,” said Aylesworth. “They often live and work from their vehicles, going days without stopping until the mission is complete.”
The third section of the detachment is communications and electronics maintenance. The upkeep of the equipment from this section is extremely important because communication within the MEU is crucial to mission accomplishment. This section troubleshoots, repairs and installs vehicle communication systems.
“They cover the whole spectrum of (communication and electronic) maintenance,” explains Aylesworth. “From laptop computers to hand held radios, these Marines do it all.”
The final section of the maintenance detachment is engineer maintenance. These Marines maintain and repair mobile electrical power sources, along with air conditioning units, forklifts and mine rollers. The engineer maintenance section perform duties that often go unnoticed but are vital to seamless operations.
The Marines are very versatile and often cross-train to accomplish missions, says Aylesworth. “All of the sections that make up the detachment are equipped to meet pretty much all the needs of the MEU.”
Like a fine-tuned machine, the pieces come together to make an efficient support core for the MEU. Keeping the MEU functioning at a high level is not an easy task. Most of their time is spent in the scorching Iraqi heat working twelve to fourteen hour shifts daily.
“It’s important for the Marines here to have a good understanding of just how important their jobs are out here,” said Aylesworth. “Without the hard work that the Marines provide for the MEU, mission accomplishment would be hindered.”
Every day is a new adventure for CLB-13 maintenance Marines, as they never know what kind of missions and responsibilities they will be tasked with next.
“Our guys are constantly exceeding the expectations of the unit, enabling the Marines on the lines to take care of the bad guys,” said Aylesworth.
As the 13th MEU looks to the future, the Marines of CLB-13’s maintenance detachment will do just as they have done the entire deployment—keep things running smoothly.