At Camp Taqaddum, modifications save lives and money
CAMP TAQADDUM, Iraq — Ingenuity among Marines seems to thrive here at this logistical hub in western Iraq.
And Cpl. Michael Florez says he will benefit from their creativity and resourcefulness.
“This is great,” the infantryman from Company F, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, said as he inspected the turret of a Humvee recently modified to feature a ballistic glass gunner’s shield. “This is a lot better than the last time.”
With a surplus of Humvee ballistic windshield kits on hand, Marines with Maintenance Company, working under the 2nd Marine Logistics Group (Forward), started welding the shields to Humvee turrets to better protect gunners who sit atop the armored vehicles, said welder Sgt. Francisco Peralta, 21.
“Now the Marines don’t have to sit so low [in the turret],” he said. “They can sit up higher, see better, and still be protected. It’s a lot safer and more effective.”
The glass shields will give gunners a view of the battlefield or roadway while providing better protection, especially of their heads and upper bodies, said Florez, whose battalion is part of the Pentagon’s “surge” of forces coming into the country to quell violence in Baghdad and Anbar province.
The U.S. military is bringing in more than 28,500 U.S. troops to boost the nearly 140,000 troops already fighting here. The full “surge” of troops — five Army brigades, two Marine Corp battalions, a Marine Expeditionary Unit and several support units — should be in place by mid-June.
The maintenance Marines work round-the-clock shifts in order to modify the Humvees and other tactical vehicles, repair the ones that need fixing, and prepare other Humvees slated to be used by the Iraqi Security Forces, said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Richard Gilmore, the Motor Transport Maintenance Platoon commander.
And Marines from other units are pitching in.
“I’m helping out and doing whatever I can do,” said Lance Cpl. Joshua Carmack, 20, a fuel electrical mechanic working in the welding shop to prep Humvees for an incoming Marine battalion.
Other young Marines figured a way to reduce the wear-and-tear on the tires of some of the newer models of Marine and Army Humvees, Gilmore said. The weight of the up-armor kits bowed the system, knocking the Humvees out of alignment. Marines added spacers to sturdy the vehicle.
“We’ve added $10 spacers, saving hundreds of dollars in tires and wear-and-tear on $144,000 Humvees,” Gilmore said.