CAMP LEJEUNE, North Carolina -- Motor transportation operators maintain and drive military vehicles that carry troops, supplies and munitions on and off the battlefield to keep forces well supplied and mission effective. Their role, a logistical piece of the Marine Air Ground Task-Force model and is essential to operational success. They are the blood cells of the Marine Corps, carrying much needed oxygen to the heart that is the unit they are supporting.
Improvised explosive devices are a major deterrence to motor transportation operators. An IED can slow convoy advancement to a halt, cause group casualties or fatalities and ultimately impede mission accomplishment. To combat the threat of IEDs, Marines with 2nd Transportation support battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, conducted counter IED training aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., December 15 to 19.
“We conducted a field exercise involving IED familiarization classes, counter IED lane training and dismounted patrols,” said Lance Cpl. Taylor M. Cash, a motor transport operator with Alpha Company, 2nd TSB. “We received hands-on practice with the mine detectors and Holley Sticks as well.”
IED lane training involves a course with simulated IEDs where Marines can practice procedures and the execution of tactics they conduct in a deployed environment with active IEDs. They use several methods to identify an IED upon visual assessment of a potential threat. Mine detectors provide an audible and accurate confirmation, however the range of a mine detector is relatively short, thus many patrols utilize a Holley Stick, a collapsible and extendable pole with an interchangeable hook at the end. Holley sticks extend up to 12 feet, affording a much safer distance when inspecting a potential IED.
“IEDs are the main threat to American and coalition forces and especially to me as a motor transport operator,” Cash said. “It’s important for us to get hands on with this training, because these are scenarios we may face on deployment."
Marines received knowledge and experience in a series of events over the course of the week beginning with classes, then conducting practical application of the skills learned in class, and lastly conducting patrols with supervision from instructors who debriefed the Marines upon completion of their patrols.
“We utilized our noncommissioned officers and junior Marines that have deployed to help those with less experience with the counter IED lanes,” said 2nd Lt. Ellen J. Gleason, 1st Platoon Commander, Alpha Company, 2nd TSB. “They were great in helping the other Marines and sharing their experiences so the others could better relate the training to real life.”
The importance of the skills the Marines learned during the course were continuously stressed and reinforced by the more seasoned leadership and those that have deployed. In addition to the counter IED scenarios, Marines also received training in basic combat first aid and conducted rescue drag drills, thus helping round the exercise out and providing the Marines with full skill range development.
“I think a major takeaway for the Marines was camaraderie,” Gleason said. “Conducting this exercise in squads and small units encouraged them to work together and established confidence in one another’s abilities. They’ll be more effective and cooperative in future missions.”
The field affords Marines with time to bond, work together and establish a team identity. Leaders can and often do use exercises as a means to gauge the efficiency of their unit.
“I learned a lot of information in this exercise, because it was hands on and informative,” Cash said. “I would like to do similar training in the future, but I’d like it to get more specific to motor transportation and include mounted convoys.”
More exercises are slated for 2nd TSB in the coming year, and there is potential for mounted convoy IED training and many others in which Cash and other junior Marines expressed an interest.
“We’ve seen a lot of growth and the Marines have done very well in this exercise,” Gleason said. “I suspect they’ll do well in the future with other exercises we have in mind and continue to be an excellent team.”