CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan --
Repair shops are a common sight along the roads and highways of the United States, making flat tires quick and easy repairs and keeping drivers on the road.
Marines in Helmand province, Afghanistan, don’t have that luxury along convoy routes, but they do count on a group of Marines who work in the only tire maintenance and repair shop aboard Camp Leatherneck.
“We supply tires to whoever needs them,” explained Cpl. Quinntin T. Smith, from Atlanta, the shop’s non commissioned officer in charge with Combat Logistics Battalion 8, 2nd Marine Logistics Group (Forward). “We are the only one operating here on Camp Leatherneck.”
The regular “wear and tear” process is increased by the terrain characteristics causing gashes on the wheels’ side walls and making them unreliable. Also when improvised explosive devices strike, they come apart damaging the rims
“Other [forward operating bases] don’t have the equipment necessary to take the rubber apart from the rim and put a new one together,” Smith said.
Troops in Afghanistan continuously conduct convoy operations in support of International Security Assistance Force, but the massive weight of the vehicles combined with endless miles through rock-strewn and deserted terrain plagued with IEDs can seriously damage the tires slowing down the pace of the operations.
“We all know we need to get supplies in and out to different FOBs,” Smith said. “My job is to make sure the tires on the trucks are good, and troops are supplied with extras in case of an emergency.”
Marines at the shop have the tools necessary to disassemble the rims, to replace broken pieces and install new tires.
“I just want to ensure, when [the Marines] conduct their operations to deliver those goods, they make it to their destination in a timely and efficient manner,” Smith added. “As opposed to dealing with having a truck down for something as simple as a bad tire.”
Since arriving in Afghanistan in January, the Marines at the shop rebuilt 512 tires for all types of motor transportation and heavy equipment, providing units within Regional Command Southwest, including the embedded partnering teams across the area of operation and even the fire department aboard Camp Leatherneck, with brand new wheels for their vehicles.
“Our shop supplies the entirety of Camp Leatherneck,” explained Lance Cpl. Thomas C. Martin, from Rutherfordton, N.C., a metal worker with CLB 8, 2nd MLG (Fwd.), who has been working at the shop since he arrived in Afghanistan four months ago. “We send them out to different places like Dwyer, Kajaki, Nolay, Edinburgh and Sangin.
“We just keep the convoys rolling. It pretty much keeps everybody ready because you can’t roll without tires,” Martin said.
Convoy operations will not cease as long as there are troops operating in the most remotes areas of Afghanistan, but service member can trust their vehicles will have a reliable set of wheels to take them wherever they need to, to accomplish the mission.