AL ASAD, Iraq --
Task Force Military Police, 1st Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment’s motor transportation Marines may not be going outside the wire, but they are ensuring that it is possible for other Marines.
The motor transportation section provides support to the battalion’s four batteries that are located throughout the Anbar Province. Although most of their support is given to the Headquarters and Golf Battery motor pools, located on Al Asad, they also support Kilo and Charlie’s tactical vehicles when their missions bring them close to Al Asad.
“We support not only the vehicles that are here, but the Police Transition Teams and Convoy Security Teams from out there,” said Sgt. Carlous Perry, the battalion mechanics shop chief. “Our biggest mission is supporting the Police Transition Teams and the Convoy Support Teams.”
The motor transportation section does second echelon maintenance, which means repairing or replacing small parts like wipers, ball joints or even armor. They also do limited third echelon maintenance with approval like troubleshooting work on engines and transmissions.
“I have guys with third and fourth echelon experience, Marines that have air conditioning qualifications and guys with welding experience,” said Perry, a West Point, Miss., native. “Everyone in my shop is well rounded. We send mechanics out on CST and PTT missions and I don’t worry about them because of their experience.”
Between second and third echelon maintenance and doing either preventative or corrective maintenance, the motor transportation section works on approximately 25 vehicles a week. As vehicles from either CST or PTT teams roll in, they act as a sort of Jiffy Lube, ensuring all the basics are covered like proper liquid levels, tire pressure and fixing any small maintenance issues.
The motor transportation section maintains many types of Marine tactical vehicles; Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement, or seven tons, M1114 Humvees and Mine Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicles.
“These trucks are run for long hours, we’re talking running straight for two to three days,” explained Perry. “So, we make sure the maintenance, like the fluid levels and the mechanics are good to go before they go out on the road. If anything happens after we have signed off on them it’s our fault, so we have to make sure they are at 100 percent before they go out on the road.”
To maintain the vehicles, the section has to maintain stockpiles of parts and tools to work on the vehicles with as well.
“When we got here we didn’t have a lot of parts for these trucks, so we had to order them and give them time to get here,” said Perry. “A lot of our success came from knowing other people and depending on other shops, including Army units. You have to be friendly with people and help each other out. I don’t think anyone that comes out here could be successful without their counterparts in other units.”
The Marine Corps latest battle wagon, the Mine Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicles, began trickling into TFMP’s motor pool in July and have been coming in steady waves since. The MRAPs are being used primarily for convoy security missions, detainee runs and as command and control vehicles. Because of the better survivability they offer, the MRAPs are being heavily relied upon.
“The MRAPs are going to the Combat Logistics Battalions, Regimental Combat Teams and Explosive Ordnance Disposal, units that are supporting the combat missions and route clearance,” said Master Sgt. Christopher Scott, the battalion truck master. “They are trying to replace the M1114 with the MRAPs so eventually everyone will have them.”
The training and licensing for tactical vehicles is also done through the motor transportation section. During the deployment, 210 Marines throughout TFMP have received new vehicle licenses, 55 of which were for MRAPs.
For this section, the biggest challenges throughout the deployment have been maintaining the suspension on the M1114’s followed by ensuring the air conditioning works in all the vehicles to stave off the heat of Iraq. The suspension on the new humvees tend to break down quicker due to the extra weight from the armor.
Though the battalion’s motor transportation Marines have faced many challenges, they stepped up to meet the challenge with enthusiasm every time, according to Master Sgt. W. L. Ferguson, battalion motor transportation maintenance chief.
“Once we did our turnover with 3/14, it was straight to work,” said Perry. “We were getting convoys in late at night and we were working from 7:00 a. m. till 1:00 a. m. sometimes. It was like that for the first three months. But, I explained to my Marines, the more quality work you do, the less work you have to do later.”
The hard work ethic of the motor transportation section has ensured that everyone with a vehicle gets the support and maintenance they need.
“No section out here works harder than maintenance,” said Ferguson. “We support nine CST and PPT teams and anyone else who needs it. My guys jump up with enthusiasm to help anyone that comes to our door, including civilians.”