CAMP PATRIOT, Kuwait – The U.S. Marines are known as America’s expeditionary force in readiness; a balanced air-ground logistics team ready to deploy to any part of the world at a moment’s notice. What is sometimes overlooked is their ability to return all personnel and equipment back to amphibious shipping, after completing a mission or training exercise.
This task falls in the hands of a small number of Marines assigned to Transportation Support Detachment, Combat Logistics Battalion 15, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, known as the Port Operations Group. From Nov. 27 to Dec. 1, the POG conducted the backload of 325 personnel, 95 tactical vehicles and 70 pallets of cargo from Camp Patriot, Kuwait, where they recently completed Eager Mace 13, a routine training exercise that focused on promoting regional security, stability and mutual interests in the region, back to the USS Rushmore.
In four days, the eight-man team had to organize the wash-down of vehicles and cargo, take full accountability of Marines and sailors, and coordinate with the USS Rushmore to shuttle personnel and cargo from shore to ship via Landing Craft Air Cushion. Even before the maneuver began, the group assisted in organizing and planning the operation.
“Once the POG operations begin, we oversee the operations to ensure a smooth transport of Marines and their cargo,” said Sgt. Nelson E. Ellwood, POG commander, TS Detachment, CLB-15, 15th MEU. “As commander, anytime we encounter an issue or friction, I have to respond as necessary. I also ensure accountability is kept accurately and the timelines are adhered to.”
“I like my job. We’re the Marine Corps’ movers,” said Sgt. Joshua V. Ruiz, landing support specialist, TS Detachment, CLB-15, 15th MEU. “This is the side a lot of Marines don’t see. Although we play a big role in supporting resupplies, this is our primary job.”
The POG would not have been possible without Marines from Engineer Detachment, Military Police Detachment, and mechanics from Headquarters Detachment, who volunteered to wash the vehicles and drive them to staging areas and aboard LCACs.
“It’s important for us to coordinate with other units and request help,” said Ruiz. “Without their drivers, the washers and security, it would be harder to accomplish the mission.”
The TSD is comprised of Marines from different military occupational specialties, such as landing support specialists, motor transportation operators and mechanics. Although they have different backgrounds, the Marines cross-train to learn each other’s jobs in order to accomplish the common goal of supporting operations.
“Marines in this MOS have to be versatile,” said 1st Lt. Louis L. Lukondi, officer-in-charge, TSD, CLB-15, 15th MEU. “These guys make decisions on deck and have to be able to flex to smooth out operations. They need to be able to adapt on the fly, work with limited manpower and be tactful when dealing with other units.”
The 15th MEU is deployed as part of the Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group as a U.S. Central Command theater reserve force, providing support for maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.