Logistics support vital to success of Operation Dynamic Partner
By 1st Lt. Nicole Yuhas
| II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) | February 26, 2013
CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan --
Combat Logistics Regiment 2 proved its capabilities vital to the success of retrograde operations, providing tactical logistics support to Regimental Combat Team 7 during Operation Dynamic Partner in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, Feb. 9 – 18.
The overall intent of the operation was to safely extract all equipment and troops located aboard Village Stability Platform Shurakay prior to demilitarizing the site in the Upper Gereshk valley.
According to Capt. Brian McCarthy, the CLR-2 transportation operations officer, CLR-2 was the only unit able to support the operation’s robust logistical requirements.
“Aside from the catch-all generic [tactical logistics support], they needed medium and heavy-lift capabilities from the [logistics combat element],” explained McCarthy. “Additionally, they needed mobile refueling capability…and they also looked to us to provide landing support Marines to run the flow of the [Rearm, Refuel, and Resupply Point].
“The big problem set for Shurakay … was picking up the 20-foot containers from the VSP and some other breakable items that had to be retrograded,” said McCarthy.
VSP Shurakay was comparatively smaller than other similar sites and the routes to and from were difficult within which to maneuver. Consequently, the only type of vehicle that could be used to load and backhaul the equipment was the Logistics Vehicle System Replacement (LVSR) MKR-18 cargo vehicle. CLR-2 is the only unit, here, able to support this vehicle requirement.
More commonly referred to as ‘self-loaders’, these cargo trucks are equipped with a Load Handling System capable of loading and offloading containers.
Transportation Support Company, CLR-2, provided two convoy logistics patrols, with 16 LVSR trucks embedded in each. These two convoys provided the heavy-lift capability necessary to retrograde all mission essential equipment and operational gear from VSP Shurakay back to Camp Leatherneck.
According to the convoy commanders, the majority of the loads were standard, primarily utilizing the LVSR vehicle system to load 28 20-foot containers. However, there were some additional irregular loads, equipment that they normally do not move, for which there was no standard procedure for strapping them down.
“We brought everything back; even some stuff that they didn’t think was possible,” said 1st Lt. Anthony Cox, 2nd Platoon commander for TS Company. “Everyone in the loading area did an outstanding job even as [enemy] rounds were impacting near them and overhead.
“The fact that my Marines successfully provided logistics support with irregular loads over rough and uneven terrain resulted in overall success in extracting everything that was on the load plan back to the R3P and then retrograding it back to [Camp] Leatherneck,” said Cox.
After arriving back at the R3P, the regiment’s landing support and bulk fuel Marines were working to keep things running smoothly. The landing support Marines directed traffic and coordinated the flow of equipment and personnel. The bulk fuel Marines managed the refuel site, initially housing 27,000 gallons of fuel, which sustained all mechanized assets throughout the operation.
The shift in focus from a decade of counter-insurgency operations to the current retrograde operations has thrust logistics support to the forefront in execution. This change is apparent as CLR-2 was temporarily the main effort during the backhaul phase of the operation.
“We see even now that this is not something the ground combat element can do themselves,” explained 1st Lt. Christopher Brennan, 4th Platoon Commander for TS Company. “They need tactical logistics support.”
“And that’s what we do,” Brennan continued. “We deliver. Whether it’s a front haul or large backhaul, that’s what we are here for.”
Over two months of deliberate planning went into ensuring the success of the operation. VSP Shurakay was anticipated to be the most problematic VSP to close due to its isolated location and kinetic environment.
It required all elements of the Marine Air Ground Task Force to interface together and accomplish the mission.
“Everything went relatively according to plan,” said 1st Lt. Silvio Bettinelli, the CLR-2 liaison officer for the operation. “There were some friction points, but we anticipated hitting those friction points. We knew stuff like that was going to happen, so we planned for it.”
“Overall, it was a very successful mission. We got all of our gear and all of our people out of there without any casualties – that defines a successful mission,” he concluded.
Operation Dynamic Partner was one of many retrograde operations scheduled to occur as U.S. forces continue to withdraw and close bases.