War on Terrorism

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Wisconsin National Guard unit ready for Afghanistan

By 1st Sgt. Vaughn R. Larson
Wisconsin National Guard Public Affairs Office

The Oshkosh-based 1157th Transportation Company of the Wisconsin Army National Guard has completed its mobilization training at Camp Shelby, Miss., and is eager to hit the road - even if that road is somewhere in Afghanistan, where the unit arrived early this morning (April 17).

"They're more than ready," 1st Sgt. Tom Krueck said last week at Camp Shelby. "They're excited - they want to get out of here and do what they're supposed to be doing."

Initially tasked with transportation and base security missions in Kuwait, the unit was reassigned to conduct convoy security missions in Afghanistan. The change in mission also meant a change in vehicles and tactics from what the unit typically trains for.

"They've really embraced it," Krueck said. "They've taken the necessary steps to learn what they need to learn. They took it and ran."

As an example, the 1157th qualified all of its truck crews the first time around on a gunnery range where crew members had to engage targets with weapons affixed to Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles. The company averaged 877 out of 1,000 points, with one platoon averaging 915 - any score above 900 is considered distinguished.

"I think the best part of training was the gunnery," said Sgt. Megan Winke, a truck team leader who will be going on her first deployment. "Everybody got a chance. Not a lot of sleep involved, but everybody kept their heads up. My truck scored a 922."

Sgt. Jessica Paul, a driver, said the fact that the unit's mission was uncertain for a time did not affect the unit's morale.

"I'm ready for whatever we have to do," Paul said. "I think our unit has done a great job training and preparing us."

Sgt. Heather Servais said that, in addition to the 1157th's pre-mobilization training, Camp Shelby also prepared them for their deployment.

"We definitely got a broad variety of training," she said. "I'm really confident. I've got a great platoon. I think we're really ready."

"I know that we're ready," said Capt. Christian Menden, 1157th commander. "The unit is young - we have a lot of Soldiers that don't have actual combat experience, but they make up in actual education and willingness to learn and flexibility, and that's what really drives our unit and makes us strong. Everyone is willing to learn and do what is necessary to deploy."

Krueck agreed.

"They didn't go in thinking, 'Oh, we know this, we do this all the time,'" Krueck said. "They thought about what they could take from these guys that have been to Afghanistan and how they can apply it. I've been nothing but impressed. For a younger unit - only 30 of us maybe have deployed before, pretty much all the senior leadership - it never ceases to amaze me how they operate."

Even so, Menden acknowledged that the mission would be difficult.

"We know the optempo is going to be high," Menden said. "It's a big job, and we're just a small slice. We're part of the bigger picture."

"They're focused on the mission and readying themselves," Krueck added. "They're ready. They're just waiting to fly."

After their sendoff ceremony Feb. 4, the 1157th trained for several weeks at Camp Shelby. The 1157th was reassigned to deploy to Afghanistan as a result of reallocation of forces by the Department of Defense.

No comments: