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Marines from 3rd Trucks Platoon unload supplies at Combat Outpost Gorgak here, Aug. 4. Originating from Marine Corps Bases Japan, 3rd Trucks Platoon is attached to 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment. Trucks Platoon is responsible for logistical deliveries throughout 1/3’s area of operations.

Photo by Cpl. Colby Brown

1/3 Motor T rolls through Garmsir

18 Aug 2011 | Cpl. Colby Brown 1st Marine Division

There are no speed signs, signal lights or state troopers on the "Garmsir expressway," and no, TomTom won’t be able to map a route over the hard-packed dirt roads traveled by 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment’s Motor Transportation section.

The "Motor T" Marines are the deliverymen of 1/3 in the rural Helmand district of Garmsir, and anything that needs to go from point A to B, such as food, water, fuel or personnel, goes with them.

However, unlike truckers who travel a specific route and delivers cargo according to a fairly routine schedule back in the states, the motor transport platoon’s daily to-do list can change by the hour.

For Staff Sgt. Travis Bartels and the Marines of his platoon, constant change is a way of life.

“Everything we plan before we leave is down on paper,” said Bartels, the platoon sergeant for 3rd Trucks Platoon, or ‘Huskers,’ and a native of Mattoon, Ill. “But nothing is set in stone, whether we’re going two or 30 miles down the road. Nothing is ever the same; there is something different every day.”

Bartels mixes the pot even more by switching his Marines’ billets and trucks. He believes the best way to deal with the perpetually changing atmosphere of Motor T is to embrace it.

“I’ll change a gunner to a driver just to keeps things different,” said Bartels. “We use different paths every time we leave. I make sure we don’t set patterns anytime we go outside the wire."

For Lance Cpl. Jonathan Drake, being a Motor T Marine is about more than climbing into a truck and driving around Afghanistan. It’s a continuous, laborious job that provides infantry Marines with supplies to stay in the fight.

“One of the most rewarding things is to know I did the job right and nobody got hurt — the mission was accomplished,” said Drake, a 3rd platoon gunner, driver and a native of Klamath Falls, Ore.

“It’s not bullets and glory, but I make sure I always clean my gun right,” said Drake, employing a metaphor about preparedness. “[I] don’t just dust it off and call it good.”

“If it wasn’t for us,” Drake added, “a lot of Marines wouldn’t get the chow, water and supplies they need. We’re the backbone of logistics.”

For the Marines of 3rd Trucks Platoon, 10 hours on the road and the rest of their 16-hour workday is just a part of the job. They take it in stride, complete their mission and anticipate adjusting to change at a moment's notice.

“It’s not a glamorous job but it’s something I want to do, and my Marines want to do,” said Bartels, “And we’re proud to do it.”

Editors Note: 3rd Trucks Platoon is attached to 1/3 for the duration of this deployment. They originate from Trucks Company, Headquarters Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, aboard Marine Corps Bases Japan.

The battalion is currently assigned to Regimental Combat Team 1, 2nd Marine Division (Forward), which heads Task Force Leatherneck. The task force serves as the ground combat element of Regional Command (Southwest) and works in partnership with the Afghanistan National Security Forces and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations. The unit is dedicated to securing the Afghan people, defeating insurgent forces, and enabling the ANSF assumption of security responsibilities within its area operations in order to support the expansion of stability, development and legitimate governance.

1st Marine Division