NOVEMBER 1, 2016, MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, North Carolina – Over the steady hum of engines idling, Marines listen as instructors explain how to maneuver tactical vehicles and tractors up the ramps onto railroad cars.
Marines with 2nd Transportation Battalion participated in railhead operation training to create well-rounded and ready Marines at Camp Lejeune, N.C. Oct. 26, 2016.
“I learned a lot from this training because at first, I had no knowledge of how to do this or how to even load-plan the rails,” said Lance Cpl. Christiena Gant, an embarkation specialist with 2nd Transportation Support Battalion.
The Marine Corps has used the railroad as a means of transporting goods in the past but got away from the method when materials were primarily shipped overseas. The Marine Corps is returning to rail operations to save money and conserve energy.
“Rail is significantly cheaper than other means of transportation, but it takes a lot more planning and it takes a lot more know-how,” said 1st Lt. James Reichow, the training officer with 2nd Transportation Support Battalion.
Embarkation specialists assist in the preparation, planning and execution of a mobility plan. They transport gear by air, sea, and also, by rail.
“[The training is] basically teaching us what each rail[car] can carry, how much they can carry, and teaching us how to chain things down to them,” said Gant.
Transporting gear safely involves a lot of variables. Marines learn about the different railcars and how much weight each is rated to hold, explained Reichow.
Marines maneuvered vehicles on to railcars that appear almost too large to fit. At times, the bucket of a tractor hung evenly over the edge of the railcar.
Each of the Marines learned about driving all the different vehicles to maneuver them onto the railcars should they need to do it themselves, explained Gant.
The training taught new Marines how to load-plan and maneuver gear onto railcars given the unique challenges railroad transportation presents. The Marine Corps will continue to use the railroad as a means of operations in the future.