CAMP LEATHERNECK, Helmand province, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan --
The Marine Corps has often been described as the tip of the spear for the U.S. military, but before Marines step off on patrol or a convoy leaves the forward operating base, another group of Marines has already carefully calculated everything they may need for the mission. Everything from the food and ammunition to the amount of fuel needed is identified well in advance to ensure the mission is a success. It takes a lot of manpower and coordination to properly support the Marines on the front lines.
2nd Marine Division (Forward) is responsible for Task Force Leatherneck, the ground combat element of Regional Command (Southwest). It would be exceptionally difficult for the unit and the Marines on the ground to get anything done without the planning, coordination and supervision the division Logistics and Supply section provides to ensure Marines have what they need.
“Our biggest role is monitoring the logistics for the entire task force and making sure the task force has the logistics sustainment to be able to perform its missions,” said Bay City, Mich., native Col. Kyle Nickel, the chief of staff for 2nd MarDiv (Fwd) Supply and Logistics.
Nickel and his Marines are constantly working to plan and coordinate assets and transportation to ensure proper logistical support to the Marines of Task Force Leatherneck. An inherent challenge in supply and logistics planning and operations includes overcoming the dispersion of the many subordinate units spread throughout the battle space.
“Being at a forward operating base, we are separated by a large distance from our battalions. This requires some solid pre-planning and an ability to be flexible when things change at the last minute,” said Pensacola, Fla., native 1st Lieutenant Brian Geisen, the logistics operations officer for Regimental Combat Team 8, a subordinate unit, at FOB Delaram. “The reports that the battalions send us on a daily basis concerning their levels of supply allow us to recommend re-supply and ways to ensure they do not run low on everything from ammo to food.”
Oftentimes the battlefield will change so quickly that unit requirements and priorities change. Nickel said it is imperative his section receives all the information they need early in the planning phase to ensure they can identify potential limitations and come up with a plan to overcome them so they don’t interfere with Marines’ ability to accomplish the mission.
The Supply and Logistics sections throughout the division have an extraordinary amount of responsibility placed on their shoulders, ensuring Marines spread throughout Helmand and Nimroz provinces receive the support they need. As a result, Marines at each level work together to keep supply lines open.
“When they know that we need support, they volunteer to stay late. When we need support or even information concerning a request, they assist,” Geisen said about the support he receives from his division counterparts. “This understanding of ‘one team, one fight’ allows us to accomplish a lot of the more challenging tasks.”
Nickel said he is very proud of the network of Supply and Logistics Marines’ at all levels. “I am proud of their passion and their true desire and efforts to take care of other Marines,” said Nickel. “I don’t think anyone could even touch the capabilities and the span of responsibilities that the logistic stations have, from the lance corporal to the master gunnery sergeants and field grade officers.”