War on Terrorism

Friday, January 28, 2011

Montana Guardmembers' preparation key to convoy support mission

By Sgt. Glen Baker
224th Sustainment Brigade

CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, Iraq (1/27/11) - Soldiers with Company E, 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 163rd Infantry Regiment, 224th Sustainment Brigade, 103rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), prepared for success on their convoy mission Jan. 12 here.

Their mission marked a 30-day milestone for the 1-163rd Inf. Regt., since officially assuming its mission in Iraq.

Army 1st Lt. Barbara Conner, platoon leader with E Co., said that the purpose of the mission was to move commodities using both Kellogg, Brown and Root contractors and local national trucks, and that the 1-163rd Inf. Regt.’s mission was to provide convoy security.

“We had several days in preparation for this, and of course all the training prior to this,” Conner said. “We have mission briefs where we coordinate and make sure that all of our information is correct within the Internet systems and with our battalion.  Make sure their [Tactical Operations Center] is set up to support us.

“Then we compile all of that into a mission brief, give that to the battalion, and work on maintenance. Vehicles require a lot of maintenance and preparation for this. We also make sure we have enough Class I [food] and logistics support.”

Conner explained how the Soldiers prepared the day before the mission.

“We give an [operations order] to all of the Soldiers involved in the mission, including extra people to make sure that we have coordination with everything that they need, everything that’s expected of them,” Conner said.

“Then again we work on maintenance and preparing the vehicles for the next day. We also do a test fire that day. Then we lock everything up and make sure [the Soldiers] get enough sleep; it’s really imperative to our mission because we’re out on the road so much. We have to make sure we’re alert and aware, so we have a sleep plan. We wake up and again prepare the vehicles, and we do three inspections prior to the day of the mission.”

Army Sgt. Mark Morrison, a vehicle commander with E Co., described his role preparing for the mission.

 “I make sure the vehicles are ready,” Morrison said.  “I had to inspect the trucks and make sure there are no big problems, make sure everything’s good to go so we don’t break down on the road, and make sure my crew’s ready.”

Morrison said that he likes going on convoy missions.

“It makes the time go by faster,” Morrison said.  “It’s away from the base. I just like being out there – different scenery. We see lots of camels, and when we go down the highways, you’ll see the little shops they have. They sell gas along the road.  Little kids nag you and try to get you to throw them things. It’s pretty neat.”

Army Staff Sgt. Clinton Carlton, alternate convoy commander with E Co., said the 1st CAB, 163rd Inf. Regt. Soldiers trained to prepare for their missions.

“We had about three months of training at Camp Shelby, Mississippi,” Carlton said. “We did a bunch of training missions for mock convoys and we did a bunch of Class I activities to help prepare for this.”

Carlton described some of the benefits of going on a mission.

“What I like most is being more in control of your surroundings and the camaraderie with your fellow Soldiers,” Carlton said.

“It’s a good time being able to just talk with them, drive, look around, and actually see Iraq instead of being on the [Forward Operating Base] the entire time. There’s a mosque north of Baghdad that’s pretty lit up and nice. The main colors they use are blue and purple; it almost looks like a casino.”

Army Spc. Anthony Young, a medic with E Co., explained what he did to prepare.

“A few days before we do our mission, we make sure the maintenance is ready,” Young said.

“I have to use medical supplies; I restock. I make sure all trucks are set with their [Combat Life Saver supplies] in case something does happen and that they have the right medical equipment on hand. My task is to be a dismount if anything happens. For anybody on the convoy, I’m responsible for their health, to treat them and see if we need to take them anywhere.”

Army Sgt. 1st Class James Winters, platoon sergeant with E Co., described how previous experience helped prepare the Soldiers for success.

“This platoon was a distribution platoon, so they had convoy experience, so it was a pretty easy transition,” Winters said.

“We got some people from other units before we left. For the last year we trained on all the warrior tasks. Once we got to our [mobilization] site, we started doing convoy training. Most of these guys have done convoys before. I want these guys to have this experience. It’s going to help them with their career.”

As night fell and the dust settled, the Soldiers of E Co., 1st CAB, 163rd Inf. Regt.  accomplished their mission and all returned safely to COB Adder.

No comments: