CAMP RAMADI, Iraq --
In December 2008, Combat Logistics Battalion 5 began a maintenance partnership with the 1st Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division and their U.S. Marine Corps advisors, Military Transition Team 0110, on Camp Ramadi’s neighboring IA base, Camp Ali.
The partnership was developed by the MiTT to assist the Iraqi brigade in improving their logistics skills – what many consider the Iraqi security forces’ main shortcoming.
To help overcome this hurdle, a small group of corporals with CLB-5 worked vigorously during their time with the Iraqis to help modernize the way they provided logistical support to their units. By reconfiguring their work spaces, tool rooms and vehicle maintenance procedures, the Marines soon noticed an increase in the Iraqis’ abilities.
Following CLB-5’s departure from Iraq in February 2009 and MiTT 0110’s transfer to the Basra area the following month, one Marine from CLB-4 picked up where his counterparts left off.
Staff Sgt. Donald L. Marsh, a platoon sergeant with Support Company, CLB-4, 2nd Marine Logistics Group (Forward), said he has seen much progress since he took over teaching the program earlier this year.
“I have seen improvements in all areas,” he said. “Before we started – before CLB-5 started – the Iraqis would have a problem with the vehicles and just start tearing stuff apart.”
He said the Iraqis are very proficient at disassembling and assembling their fleet of humvees, but need training on how to troubleshoot and find parts for the vehicles.
Gunnery Sgt. Bryan K. Tenhopen, an advisor for MiTT 9999, which replaced MiTT 0110, pointed out some of the issues the brigade has experienced since the team and Marsh began working with them.
“Their major problem is the humvees,” he explained. “There are no parts out in town, so they rely on us to get it for them.”
Marsh agreed with Tenhopen, saying that supply support is a very important need.
“We can show them how to fix trucks, but if they can’t get parts from their supply support, then it’s not going to get fixed,” he said.
Tenhopen added that despite the Iraqis’ problems with parts procurement, there has been a drastic increased proficiency in troubleshooting the humvees – finding and fixing problems without tearing the whole vehicle apart.
“The troubleshooting procedures have gotten a lot better,” he said. “I went from having classes every week, to every other week when the other team left. I felt they were getting a handle on it.”
Tenhopen has noticed how much information the Iraqis have retained since being taught by CLB-5. He said the tire shop, tool rooms and maintenance procedures started by the previous logistics battalion are still in place.
Marsh said he is impressed with the Iraqis’ progress.
“I see shop cleanliness, organization, improvements in attitude … they’re more receptive and eager to learn,” he said. “They trust in their training now because it has helped them.”
“It’s been an experience for me,” he continued. “What amazed me the most about the mechanics is their level of proficiency. With lack of military knowledge and supply support for the vehicles, they do some amazing work.”
Both Marsh and Tenhopen believe that with a little more training and planning, the Iraqi soldiers will be ready to take responsibility on their own when the United States’ responsible drawdown from Iraq kicks into high gear.
For more information on the ongoing mission in Iraq’s Al Anbar province, visit www.iimefpublic.usmc.mil/iimeffwd.