Logistics Marines are the eyes, ears for ground troops

27 Apr 2011 | Lance Cpl. Bruno J. Bego 2nd Marine Logistics Group

Regional Command Southwest in Afghanistan is comprised of Helmand and Nimruz Provinces, which covers 39,000 square miles.

Marines and sailors with the 2nd Marine Logistics Group (Forward) work all day, every day to provide logistical support to an area roughly the size of Kentucky.

Recovery missions, fuel deliveries, coordinating air support and combat logistic patrols are just a few examples of the support the MLG provides to troops on the ground.

The 2nd MLG (Fwd.) Combat Operations Center serves as the central nervous system for logistics operations throughout southwestern Afghanistan. 

Twenty-three Marines and sailors, who work in the Group’s COC, constantly watch live feeds and listen to radio communications to ensure the safe movement of troops and gear.  They supervise and monitor all combat logistics patrols, engineer operations, aerial deliveries, intelligence collection, patient statuses and overall crisis management.

“We ensure the tactical logistics support to Task Force Leatherneck, the greater Regional Command and its coalition partners is delivered in the right quantities to the right place and at the right time,” explained Lt. Col. Jim Stone, the deputy operations officer.   

If a combat logistics patrol loses communication with the battle space owner they contact the MLG COC to reestablish communication or get the support they need, like close-in air support.  When all else fails, the MLG COC is the life line to keep the logistics patrols rolling and in the fight.

“We are responsible for monitoring and ensuring the MLG units operating throughout [RC Southwest] have whatever they need to continue their missions,” explained Gunnery Sgt. Richard A. Thayer, from Concord, N.H., the COC watch chief with 2nd MLG (Fwd.).  “We ensure all protocol is followed, and if there is a problem between the occupying unit and our transient unit, we immediately intervene and resolve all issues.”          

The weight of keeping operational capability and mission effectiveness, enhancing situational awareness for future missions and preserving important resources, especially human life, falls on the Marines and sailors working in the COC.

“We are the higher echelon of support for the MLG,” Thayer said.  “We monitor the different units’ movements every thirty minutes, and we are capable of obtaining real time information in case they need any support.”

The COC is designed to support Marines wherever they are deployed and is the focal point of decision-making during all phases of ground movement.

“It is very important to maintain eyes on all the different operations basically for accountability,” said Cpl. Boreth A. Chan, from Long Beach, Calif., a radio operator in the COC with 2nd MLG (Fwd.).  “Our main mission is to know who or which unit is doing what, where, when and why.

“But in the end we just want to make sure the Marines are safe and capable of accomplishing their mission,” Chan added.

Some of the COC clerks monitor hundreds of radio transmissions, some trace routes and ground operations and others, like Lance Cpl. Roxanne K. Parvizi, from Concord, Calif., the COC air clerk with 2nd MLG (Fwd.), watch over air operations.

“I organize and keep track of all the flights [involving MLG personnel],” Parvizi said. “I take care of all [helicopter support team] operations, and I make sure convoys get air support if they need it.”

Regardless of their responsibility, all the members of the COC share one thing in common; they are the eyes and ears of the MLG.  Since 2nd MLG (Fwd.) assumed authority in early March they have monitored and controlled the execution of more than 700 combat logistics patrols traveling over 19,000 miles.