AL QUWEIRA, Jordan -- Napoleon once said that an army marches on its stomach. Credit the man with the wit to make the analogy quick and prescience to voice a truth that would only become more valid with time. In the age of sail and colonial expansion, an army relied on a source of food and ammunition to keep rolling – it was the lack of consumables that actually stalled Napoleon’s advance into Russia, bringing his dream of an Imperial France to an eventual end. In this day and age, especially in the desert, an army – or the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit – depends on a good deal more.
Every day, the 26th MEU consumes food, fuel, and water – a titanic and widespread entity that turns the supplies, logistics provides and turns them into a physical expression of the political will of the United States. We need ammunition to keep the guns firing, repair parts to keep the vehicles and weapons operational. Transport for troops and cargo for a unit spread out across continents. The MEU, in short, needs logistics, and it needs it like a body needs a spine. And Combat Logistics Battalion 26 is purpose built to fill that role.
“The MEU is amphibious in nature. What we’re doing is not only assault from the sea, but also sustainment from the sea,” said 1st Lt. Brett Rosvold, assistant logistics officer from Barron, Wis., assigned to CLB-26, 26th MEU. With the bulk of the 26th MEU landed at Al Quweira conducting training with the Jordanian Armed Forces, hours from the landing beach, the logistics train from the ship to the Marines is a necessarily complex one.
“Everything we have is either coming from the ships, or we’re making it ourselves,” said Rosvold. With onsite capability to purify water, remove trash, manufacture and reinforce fortifications, and repair vehicles, the need from ship comes in the form of resources that can’t be made onsite – fuel for example.
With tanks, amphibious assault vehicles, and a host of other vehicles, including trucks, Humvees, and light armored vehicles, all performing intensive bilateral training in the desert, need for fuel is high. “On any given day, we go through about 1,000 to 3,000 gallons of fuel,” said Rosvold.
“We run recovery vehicles for tanks, tracks, and rolling stock,” said Rosvold. The maintenance section of CLB-26 has set up a motor pool, capable of performing any repair on these vehicles that the Marines are trained to do. “Our busiest section is motor transportation, providing lift for Lima Company as the motorized raid force, as well as Class 1, 3, 5 and 9 support. Class 1 is food and water, Class 3 is fuel, Class 5 is ammunition, and Class 9 is repair parts.”
And all of this is applied across thousands of Marines, scattered across ships and countries.
“Our biggest challenge is the different units out here that require support,” said Gunnery Sgt. Christopher Paeth, CLB-26 motor transportation chief from Cocoa, Fla. “We have a pretty good idea who needs what on certain days. It’s mostly interacting with the battalion landing team and command element. That’s how we stay ahead. Communication is crucial.”
Much of the work of CLB-26 consists of running convoys from the beach landing zone in Aqaba to Al Quweira and the other satellite bases, keeping the outposts supplied with what they need. Doing this keeps the motor transportation operators busy, driving supplies to and from the port.
Combat Logistics Battalion 26 will keep the 26th MEU running for the remainder of this deployment.