Two soldiers with the British Army's Theatre Equipment Support Battalion have been sharing wrenches with some of the finest maintainers from the 2nd Marine Logistics Group (Forward) at Camp Leatherneck in Helmand province.
Lance Corporal Craig Heaton and Craftsman Adam Evans traded places with a pair of their American counterparts for an opportunity to see how the US Marine Corps keeps their gear in the fight.
The swap is part of an ongoing exchange programme between the Maintenance Company of Marine Air-Ground Task Force Support Battalion 11.2 and their coalition counterparts at Camp Bastion.
According to Major Brian Spooner, the Commanding Officer of Maintenance Company, it’s all about maintaining positive relationships with their NATO partners:
It has allowed us to compare levels of maintenance and share ideas… come up with unique solutions to unpredictable problems,” said Major Spooner, a native of Fort Collins in Colorado.
The troops spent much of the week running diagnostics on various types of engines.
Lance Corporal Heaton, a vehicle mechanic from Northamptonshire, noted an obvious difference between the ways the two forces approach equipment repair.
The exchange pair spent part of their time at the Intermediate Maintenance Activity lot troubleshooting a Detroit Diesel V6 Logistics Vehicle System truck engine down to component level - something quite different from what they would have done on the British side.
Whereas the Marines do a lot of maintenance on site, Lance Corporal Heaton explained that his unit would typically replace the whole part, an entire engine in this case, and send the broken piece of gear back to the UK to be repaired:
We were originally taught this type of thing in trade training, but you get to your unit and start doing things the way they do things and some of it fades away,” he said. “This brings it back, enhances it.
A lot of the equipment we use is similar to what we are working on here, same transmissions, so we’ll be able to fix more issues on site and save it from being sent back.