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Marines work with the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service to repair a vehicle Aug. 4, 2017. SPMAGTF-CR-CC sent a team of approximately 20 Marines to Iraq to help the CTS with their maintenance requirements in order to get their vehicles and weapons back in the fight.

Photo by Staff Sgt. Jacob D. Osborne

A Helping Hand

24 Sep 2017 | Staff Sgt. Jacob D. Osborne I Marine Expeditionary Force

The high stress and cost of combat takes a toll from those engaged in it. This toll isn’t limited to those fighting however, as the equipment and vehicles used in modern warfare also show the wear of sustained operations. After liberating Mosul from ISIS during the Mosul offensive, the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service was in need of maintenance on their equipment. With a short timeframe prior to the Tal Afar offensive, the CTS looked for an expeditious option to provide repairs and basic maintenance on weapons and vehicles. They sent a request to the Logistics Combat Element Marines with Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force – Crisis Response – Central Command.

On Aug. 1, 2017, SPMAGTF-CR-CC answered the call and sent a team of approximately 20 Marines to Iraq to help the CTS with their maintenance requirements in order to get their vehicles and weapons back in the fight.

“The CTS have no issues with day-to-day repairs,” said Capt. Daniel Tudor, logistics officer in charge, Logistics Combat Element, SPMAGTF-CR-CC. “They just needed to do so much maintenance in such a short period of time they requested our support so the repairs could be done quickly.”

In less than 15 days the CTS and Marines, working side by side, fixed more than 150 vehicles and weapons.

“The members of the CTS were very willing to work with us,” said Gunnery Sgt. Michael Gossard, motor transport maintenance chief, Logistics Combat Element, SPMAGTF-CR-CC. “During the time we worked with them, we developed some good friendships.”

As the motor transport maintenance chief, Gossard was responsible for all maintenance the Marines were conducting. He noted that the way the Iraqi forces operated was different from the Marines due to different regulations, which resulted in beneficial learning for both the Marines and the CTS. “The Marines learned a lot about expedient and untraditional repairs from the CTS. They could fix just about anything,” Gossard said.

The Marines went beyond the physical maintenance aspect of the mission while they were working with the CTS, providing training on administrative procedures that enhance maintenance workflow.

“The CTS are really good at the hands-on part of vehicle maintenance,” said Tudor. “We helped them a lot with the administrative side of things.”

When the Marines of SPMAGTF-CR-CC left to work with their Iraqi counterparts they expected to primarily fix communication equipment, weapons and various types of vehicles, but when they began the repairs, the largest portion of work was focused on Humvee repair. Despite specializing in repairing communication equipment and weapons maintenance, the Marines adapted to the situation, increasing their proficiency in Humvee repair while working with the CTS to accomplish the mission.

“This was a good experience for our Marines,” said Tudor. “Marines, whose primary strength was fixing communication gear and weapons, are now able to do engine swaps.”

The time spent working and building relationships with the CTS also allowed the Marines to share some weapons maintenance best practices.

“The Iraqis learned from tradition when it came to maintaining their weapons. We were able to show them alternative methods to increase efficiencies,” said Gossard.

“I feel like we made a big difference,” said Gossard. “The Iraqis were very grateful that we were able to help the repairs get completed in such a short time.” He said that he looks forward to the possibility of going back and working with the CTS again in the future.

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