FORWARD OPERATING BASE HIT, Iraq -- Convoys or combat logistics patrols of the Marine Expeditionary Unit Service Support Group 22 are constantly on the move delivering supplies and transporting Iraqi soldiers and Marines throughout the Al Anbar province of Iraq.
Every Marine and sailor knows their role aboard the convoys rolling through treacherous terrain.
Some are prepared to counter small arms fire from insurgents and all are vigilant of the improvised explosive device threat.
“On convoys, everyone has a job to do,” said Capt. Troy M. Pugh, the Baltimore native and operations officer with MSSG-22. His unit is the combat service support element of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable). “Nearly everyday, we have multiple missions going to different locations. Although we have experienced several IEDs, the Marines have performed exceptionally well.”
Pugh said the convoys are a lifeline for combat outposts near Hit and also for the Iraqi Army soldiers and Marines conducting Operation Wadi Aljundi (Koa Canyon) along the Euphrates River. The convoys provide fuel, food, bottled water; all the supplies that allow them to continue their counterinsurgency operations.
Pugh said the Marines on convoys know the importance of their jobs and there is never a shortage of volunteers. He said the security elements are “chomping at the bit” and always eager to get back out again.
“I ensure we maintain a 360 degree perimeter at all times,” said Cpl. Edward K. McClure, a convoy security team commander with MSSG-22, and a Winchester, Ky., native. “We are always ready to engage the enemy upon contact. We have to make sure all the goods on the convoy make it to their destinations safely. The Marines outside the wire can’t push without us bringing them the supplies.”
McClure said his mission in Iraq keeps him and other MSSG Marines busy and nothing slows them down; not IEDs, cold or darkness. He stressed that for a convoy to roll securely, each individual must know their responsibilities.
“We had an IED explode directly behind my security vehicle,” said McClure.
It was because of the unit’s well-rehearsed procedures that they were able to continue their mission.
“We reacted to the IED as we have been trained to, and no one was injured,” said McClure.
During the cold nights, according to McClure, the turret gunners have the worst spot.
“We all bundle up and wear as much as we can so we can focus on the mission.”
While keeping guard atop security vehicles, turret gunners, are ever vigilant regardless of the bitter, cold wind.
“We need everyone in the convoy to be alert constantly,” said 2nd Lt. Lindsey Bellomy, originally from Dallas and the mobile combat service support detachment commander with MSSG-22. “Whether they are part of the security posture, watching the roads, or collecting intelligence aboard a seven-ton truck, everyone’s eyes and ears contribute to the overall safety of the convoy.”
As an MCSSD commander, Bellomy maintains command and control, accountability, and security, so that upon enemy contact actions are carried out and the overall mission is accomplished.
“Our Marines have done a good job of making the point we only harm insurgents,” said Bellomy. “We roll with Iraqi Army trucks, and we always have Iraqi children wave and smile as the convoys roll by. We have given out some humanitarian meals and will be giving some soccer balls in the near future. During a convoy, I had a little Iraqi child girl come up to me smileing and wave. Even though we couldn’t speak to each other, there was a kind of a communication there.”
In addition to MSSG-22, the 22nd MEU (SOC) consists of its Command Element, Battalion Landing Team 1st Bn., 2nd Marines and HMM-261 (Rein), and is conducting counterinsurgency operations with an Iraqi Army battalion, under the tactical control of the 2nd Marine Division.