MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Marines with II Marine Expeditionary Force participated in railway operation training with under the supervision of soldiers from Movement Control Company 171 here to maintain and improve unit readiness, Jan. 20 to 23, 2015.
The Marines had previous experience loading vehicles and equipment onto trucks and aircraft, but not railway cars. To that end, soldiers from MCC 171 traveled from California to bring their expertise to the training.
“This is the first time a lot of the Marines in the class are doing this even though it’s part of their job,” said Army Sgt. 1st Class Grachya Kazanchyan, the rail noncommissioned officer in charge for MCC 171. “There isn’t the infrastructure for a lot of Marines to do the hands-on training portion of rail operations. MCC 171 doesn’t usually go to other installations to train, but we were asked to come here and we’re glad to be.”
The training involved learning to organize, load and secure vehicles and equipment on the correct rail cars in a space-efficient manner. Each car can only hold cargo up to a certain weight and that weight must be evenly distributed to transport safely, a delicate task when loading a 63-ton tank onto a rail car.
“The Marine Corps … needs to understand this element of transportation in order to provide a fluent and functional capability,” said Sgt. John Coe, the surface, schools and systems chief for II MEF Strategic Mobility, and Vincent, Ohio. “This training establishes the fundamentals and enables Marines to prove their understanding of what is required while operating at a rail operations group. All of the Marines wanted to learn as much as they could about this aspect of their job.”
The operation provided a unique opportunity to learn the process so they could conduct railway operations independent from the Army.
“The Army and Marines might have different missions, but we have a common purpose,” said Kazanchyan, a native of Los Angeles. “The goal is that the Marine Corps doesn’t have to rely on the army to load its equipment and vice versa. Interchanging this type of information is just going to make everybody more proficient.”
Railway operations not only give soldiers and Marines an alternative method of transporting equipment, but are also more cost-effective than other options. With the downsizing and budget adjustments of the Marine Corps, rail operations could definitely help save money, said Coe.