AL-TAQADDUM, Iraq --
Al Asad Air Base is a large, sprawling military airfield in Al Anbar province. The base is home to Task Force Al Asad, an international coalition and part of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve.
The task force runs 24-hour advise and assist operations focused on improving the ability and lethality of Iraqi security forces against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. That high operational tempo places an extreme amount of stress on the task force’s equipment.
Marines from the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force - Crisis Response-Central Command support this important mission with a variety of logistical and operational capabilities and sent a team to the site to assist with maintaining the unit’s vehicle readiness on July 23.
“We came out here to assist Task Force Al Asad with their annual preventative maintenance checks,” said Sgt. Rafael Rojas, a motor transport mechanic with the SPMAGTF. “We also conducted corrective maintenance on vehicles that required it.”
The team of seven Marines spent the week inspecting many of the vehicles and machinery around the base, ensuring the equipment is ready to operate in the austere environment of western Iraq.
“Our work is like when you take your car in for a tune-up,” said Sgt. Fox Walkeithus, a motor transport mechanic with the SPMAGTF. “We check oil levels, change engine filters and generally made sure the piece of equipment was working properly.”
The elements take a toll on the equipment and vehicles, and a lot goes into ensuring they continue to perform as needed. Rojas added that in addition to the basic preventative maintenance tasks, they inspected the vehicles’ larger parts and systems for wear and potential failure.
While TFAA has mechanics of its own, they continually work across the base on major equipment issues. While skilled enough to perform the maintenance, the task force mechanics must prioritize their efforts on other essential tasks.
“Changing an oil filter is the least of their concern,” said Walkeithus. “These Marines work with heavy equipment, perform welding jobs and fix generators, among other things. They have done a great job keeping the equipment running.”
Within the week, the maintenance team was able to perform the majority of the maintenance on the base vehicle pool, giving the TFAA maintenance Marines one less thing to worry about.
“Now they can rest a little easier, said Rojas. “We just want to set them up for success and make it easier for future rotations of Marines.”