MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Coming from across the country, some even as far as Japan and Hawaii, Marines with I, II, and III Marine Expeditionary Forces met at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., during September to test two new vehicles the Marine Corps is researching.
“With operational tempo at a very high level, it was essential to pull different Marines from across the Marine Corps,” said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Mark Schmidt, a motor transport maintenance officer with II MEF Headquarters Group. “Every MEF operates a little bit differently. You get a collaboration of different ideas on how to do things that allows for a better operational testing event.”
Under the guidance of Marine Corps Operational Test and Evaluation Activity (MCOTEA), which independently tests and evaluates every piece of gear and equipment that Marines use, motor transport Marines tested the Logistic Vehicle System Replacement MKR 15 wrecker and MKR 16 tractor.
“We’re here to test the full capabilities of the vehicles and make sure they can do everything they are designed to do,” said Staff Sgt. David G. Lopez, a motor transport operations chief with 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I MEF. “We’re testing the different operations such as crane, winching and recovery in different environments.”
Some of the tests the Marines put the vehicles through include driving distances of up to 60 miles, recovering an overturned vehicle and towing a heavily loaded trailer.
“You can have an engineer build a truck, but until you put it in a Marine’s hands and have him use it the way we use it, then you won’t really know how well the vehicle is going to perform,” said Lopez. “We’re making sure that if and when this vehicle goes overseas the warfighters who use it will be able to accomplish their mission.”
In addition to testing the operational capability of the vehicles, Sgt. Derek Myers, an instructor at the Motor Transport Instruction School aboard Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., considered safety of the utmost importance.
“It’s important to look for any operation that will affect safety,” said Myers. “Safety is always key.”
With Marines from many different units working together, there was a blending of ideas and working styles that helped each Marine develop a mutual respect for one another.
“They’re the cream of the crop,” emphasized Sgt. Kevin Paulhus, a logistics vehicle system operator with 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division. “You couldn’t ask for a better bunch of Marines to show up and test these vehicles.”
The vehicles will also be tested by Marines in the desert of Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center 29 Palms, Calif., and the snow of U.S. Army base Fort Greely, Alaska.