HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan — Marines and sailors with Alpha Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 4, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward), transported equipment and supplies to a village stability platform (VSP) during a combat logistics patrol in the Helmand River Valley, June 22-24.
The VSP was operated by Marines with Marine Special Operations Command, working with Special Operations Task Force – West.
“The platforms are run by special forces and MARSOC operators from both the U.S. Army and Marine Corps, Afghan Commandos, and support personnel and help to provide stability to the local area,” said 1st Lt. Benjamin Gutek, platoon commander, 3rd Platoon, Alpha Co., CLB-4, 1st MLG (Fwd).
The VSPs, which are smaller and located in closer proximity to the Afghan population than traditional forward operating bases, allow security forces to maintain a presence in local communities.
The Marines approached the mission to support SOTF-W in the same manner as they approach missions supporting conventional units.
“Our role [while supporting] MARSOC or SOTF-W is no different than when we support traditional infantry units,” said Gutek. “Our role is important because no one else is capable of executing [motor transportation] operations like a logistics unit, which enables us to efficiently and effectively deliver classes of supply to the forward operating units."
Bringing the supplies to the remote VSP from Camp Leatherneck required the CLB-4 patrol to cross varied terrain, including open desert, steep hills and narrow roadways through villages and around fields.
“I think the Marines have seen [challenging] terrain like that before … they maneuvered over it really well,” said Gutek. “[On the narrow roads] there is not a whole lot you can do except go nice and slow and leave yourself room to maneuver to the front and rear.”
The Marines worked to avoid breakdowns caused by the challenging terrain.
“The trucks were well maintained … none of the CLB-4 [vehicles] broke down, and any problems we did have with them, we solved in a timely matter,” said Cpl. Ethan R. Cox, navigator, 3rd Plt., Alpha Co., CLB-4, 1st MLG (Fwd).
The combat logistics patrol worked with a platoon from Mobile Assault Company, 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, who conducted a route clearance patrol to help the Marines and sailors reach the VSP safely.
“RCP travels in front of the convoy and clears the route of [improvised explosive devices] and obstacles,” said Cox. “They work with [explosive ordnance disposal] to use controlled detonations to remove [any IEDs]… and conduct site surveys on the blast site to determine the size of the IED and the initiation device.”
Cox considered this mission to be a success, as he mentioned that all of the Marines and sailors made it back safely, and all of the supplies and equipment were delivered.