In “The Lieutenant Don’t Know“, Marine Lt. Jeff Clement of Combat Logistics Battalion 6, provides a gripping and descriptive view into navigating the hostile and challenging terrain of North Helmand Province in Afghanistan where the supply routes between the main base Camp Leatherneck, and the various remote outposts are described by Jeff as either ‘bad’ or ‘worse’.
A Combat Logistics Battalion is responsible for keeping forward operating bases within a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) supplied with fuel, water, and other critical supplies as well as recovering destroyed or blown-up trucks from the field, among other things.
Whump! IED. IED. IED!
Lt. Clement tells of the daily challenges faced by the Logistics Marines where IEDs were commonplace and Rules of Engagement restricted their role ‘outside the wire’ to a defensive one. Often averaging five miles per hour, their large truck convoys were constant targets of bombs and snipers. However, the lieutenant goes on to explain that “Freedom was outside the wire”, contrasting their ability to be decisive and get things done while on the road and under fire was far easier than dealing with the politics and administrative REMF personnel who had no idea of reality outside Camp Leatherneck.
“The Lieutenant Don’t Know” is a great read for its insight and straightforwardness. After you read this book, you’ll have a renewed appreciation for the Marines serving in logistics capacities. Marines from any era or MOS discipline will appreciate the familiar and timeless hard-charging attitudes and logistical frustrations we all know and love.
Clement writes “Our sense of normal is distorted. I think this is essential to getting our jobs done, but sometimes Marine leaders take this distorted sense of reality for granted. Like when somebody forgets to provide food to Marines in training. “You haven’t eaten in 48 hours?” Suck it up! You’re Marines! You’ll get food when you get there!” or when somebody doesn’t plan for some kind of shelter in case there is a huge storm during a parade or ceremony; “You’re getting wet, oh well, you’re Marines… your amphibious! Suck it up!”
“Why do Marines do whatever they’re asked? The lieutenant don’t know.
The thing is, the Marines will do whatever they’re asked. Conditions that would cause a mutiny in the Army or Navy will be accepted by the Marines. Sure, we’ll complain… griping is part of who we are. It’s when the Marines stop complaining that we have problems.”
Know your Marines, know yourself, and know your shit!
Bravo Zulu Lt. Clement! “The Lieutenant Don’t Know” now has a permanent spot in my military must-read bookshelf.
You can follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffclement
Yut! Drive On!