CAMP RAMADI, Iraq --
Staff Sgt. Donald L. Marsh, a platoon sergeant with Support Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 4, 2nd Marine Logistics Group (Forward), has come a long way since beginning a maintenance partnership in February 2009 with the 1st Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division, and their Marine Corps advisors, Military Transition Team 9999, on Camp Ramadi’s Iraqi Army base, Camp Ali.
Marsh teaches biweekly classes to the maintenance shop aboard the IA base, with in-depth classroom instruction followed by practical application on everything from the fuel system to the electrical system of a humvee.
“Marsh has contributed a great deal to the partnering with the Iraqi Security Forces of the Iraqi Army, 1st Division, 1st Brigade's Maintenance and Transportation Section,” said Gunnery Sgt. Bryan K. Tenhopen, an advisor for MiTT 9999. “He has spent a great number of hours preparing classes for them and teaching the fundamental aspects of the humvee and the 6.5-liter diesel engine.
“The partnership between the MiTT and the Iraqi army has been increased tenfold with the help of Marsh and some of his Marines,” he continued.
The overall goal of the maintenance partnering program is to help the Iraqi soldiers set themselves up for success.
Marsh said he is impressed with the great deal of progress he has seen since he took over teaching the program, and that with a few more weeks of partnering, the Iraqis should be ready to work on their own.
“I have seen improvements in all areas,” he said. “Before we started, the Iraqis would have a problem with the vehicles and just start tearing stuff apart. Now, [their] troubleshooting procedures have gotten a lot better,” Marsh said.
“The maintenance shop has increased their knowledge of the humvee in a lot of ways,” Tenhopen agreed. “The maintenance section has learned a great deal of tricks-of-the-trade, so to speak, that they may have otherwise not known.”
Another lesson being taught to the Iraqi soldiers is preventative maintenance.
The Iraqi soldiers are now conducting regularly scheduled checks and services of their vehicles to prevent breakdowns and keep vehicles running smoothly, said Tenhopen.
Although Marsh has spent a great amount of time with the maintenance section aboard Camp Ali, soon he will have to depart and leave the job to the Marines of CLB-46, the unit scheduled to take over the responsibilities of CLB-4.
“It’s been an experience for me,” he said. “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.”
“I think they are plenty ready to take responsibility of the maintenance activity, ” said Tenhopen.