AL ASAD, Iraq -- Tank mechanics with the Twentynine Palms, Calif.-based C Company, 1st Tank Battalion log in 12-plus hour days, usually six or more days a week, turning wrenches and repairing parts to keep a fleet of 68-ton M1A1 Main Battle Tanks operational.
C Company is currently attached to Regimental Combat Team 7, the U.S. military unit responsible for providing security and mentoring Iraqi Security Forces in western Anbar – an area more than 30,000 square-miles in size, or about the size of South Carolina, according to the Marines here.
In addition to supporting the regiment ’s infantrymen with massive amounts of firepower on the battlefield, tanks and their crews are considered an invaluable asset to Marines “on the ground” – they add an extra layer of protection for patrols and convoys traveling Iraq’s bomb-laden roads.
The mechanics say that for every hour a tank is operated, about six hours of regular maintenance is required to keep the tank operable, “give or take.”
“If the mechs don’t do their job well, these tanks don’t roll – period,” said Gunnery Sgt. Jeffrey W. Hyrne, a 32-year-old from Louisville, Ky., and Company C’s maintenance chief. “It could cost someone, or a crew, their lives.”
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