FORT PICKETT, Va. -- When a Marine Expeditionary Unit forms by gathering its major subordinate elements into its command, the first major challenge for the unit is to complete its initial deployment training, including required classes, weapons firing and an abundance of other training events. It’s a full schedule.
One element of the MEU, the Combat Logistics Battalion, pulls double duty. Marines with CLB-26, who fulfill nearly all the logistic support needs of the nearly 2,200-Marine and Sailor 26th MEU, not only had to conduct the training, they had to support it as well.
As 26th MEU conducted its initial deployment training aboard Fort Pickett, Va., from March 22 to April 7, CLB-26 conducted their own pre-deployment initial training while simultaneously providing transportation, chow, and other support to the MEU.
The battalion’s mission is to provide logistical support for all elements of the MEU including vehicles, vehicle maintenance, and movement of troops and equipment, said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jaime J. Grifaldo, mobility officer with CLB-26. They also provide engineer support such as water purification, utilities, refueling, construction, and demolition. The battalion also provides explosive ordnance disposal, military police, landing support, supply, and communications support for the MEU, Grifaldo said.
“One of the toughest aspects at Fort Pickett is managing all the training, while at the same time providing all the support the MEU needs,” Grifaldo said of the approximately 280-Marine battalion.
According to Warrant Officer 1 Charles M. Evanson, the maintenance officer for CLB-26, CLB Marines worked time into their hectic schedule to conduct even more training. In addition to all required pre-deployment training, the battalion has performed unit-specific training during it’s time at Fort Pickett.
“We have participated in noncombatant evacuation operation training, mass casualty training, humanitarian assistance training, M203 grenade launcher training, and we have gone to the MK-19 automatic grenade launcher range,” Evanson added.
When the Camp Lejeune, N.C.,-based unit is between deployments with 26th MEU, it falls under Combat Logistics Regiment 27, 2nd Marine Logistics Group. The battalion officially attached to 26th MEU March 29 to begin simultaneous support and training in preparation for the MEU’s deployment later this year.
Despite the multiple duties placed on the shoulders of CLB-26’s Marines, they are fully ready and capable to perform, said 2nd MLG Commanding Officer Col. Vincent Coglianese.
“It is even more of a credit to the battalion, because they were put together in a short amount of time,” Coglianese said. Like the MEU, CLB-26 is composited of Marines from throughout 2nd MLG.
“They are considered a mile-wide, but an inch deep,” Coglianese said. “Meaning, they have the ability to accomplish many different tasks, but only a few Marines to do it.”
Evanson said the Fort Pickett exercise is not just a chance to train but also to build some unit cohesion amongst the Marines and Sailors.
“Fort Pickett is the first time they really get a chance to spend some time together and get to know each other,” Evanson added, indicating the foundation of teamwork required to carry CLB-26 and 26th MEU through the deployment was laid here at Fort Pickett.