When an engagement is raging on the battlefield, one of the last things a commander wants to do is remove fighting capabilities to protect vital lines of supply and communications.
To help safeguard against that event, Soldiers with the 299th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division trained with a ‘dry’ run and then with live rounds on the conduct of convoy security operations Dec. 8 to 9 at Fort Riley’s training areas. The training was part of the brigade’s combined arms live fire exercise, a two-week test of its fighting and sustainment capabilities.
“It’s important because you want your vehicle crews to be able to protect themselves, not only at places like the National Training Center, (Fort Irwin, Calif.), but on any battlefield,” said 1st Lt. Zuri Stackhouse, distribution platoon leader, Co. F, 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 2nd ABCT. “You want to build confidence in them, so they can go out there and not be afraid of anything that might happen, and knowing they can handle any situation that is thrown in our direction.”
Soldiers – split up into platoons with several vehicles – took turns navigating a simulated convoy route, along which were planted several simulated obstacles, including improvised explosive devices and enemy rocket-propelled grenade teams. On the second day of the training, after a dry run using blank ammunition, the platoons used live ammunition, heightening the realistic feel of the exercise.
“These guys love getting out of the garrison environment; they love doing this type of training,” said 1st Lt. Lacey Wilson, fuel and water distribution platoon leader, Co. A, 299th BSB. “Even though they love their job distributing fuel and water and other things like that, when they are actually able to get in the gun truck and fire and communicate as a group, they love to do it.”
The 299th BSB is responsible for providing the other units in the “Dagger” Brigade with supplies necessary to fight and win any engagement, from water to mechanical support to medical expertise.
The Army divides those supplies into 10 classes.
“We make sure the brigade has all classes of supply they need to move and stay in the fight,” said Maj. Stacy Moore, executive officer, 299th BSB. “Primarily fuel and ammunition, but also medical and other (supplies).”
With that overall mission in mind, Soldiers with the “Lifeline” Battalion have been preparing for this exercise for some time, which is a part of the buildup to an NTC rotation early next year.
“To prepare, we did a lot of battle drills and a lot of crawl-, walk-, run-type training, and the way we executed today was to be expected,” said Staff Sgt. Montoya Smith, section sergeant, Co. F, 1st Bn., 18th Inf. Regt. “During NTC, I want these Soldiers to keep in mind all the exercises we’ve done today and everything they’ve trained up to this point.”
Something these platoons will have in their favor is a continuity of personnel.
“Our gun trucks will stay with the platoon through NTC, and we’ll have more time to train together before we get there,” Wilson said.
However, with some time yet before the NTC rotation and beyond, repetition and staying confident in their weapons systems and vehicles will be an important consideration moving forward, according to Stackhouse.
“We will do this (training) this weekend, and then we won’t do it for a few weeks and might forget the small things, so we need to make sure the Soldiers take what they learned here and use it daily,” Stackhouse said. “We might not be able to do it on the actual vehicle and shoot our weapons, but while we are at the company (headquarters) or have some down time, we can always practice swiveling and sending out reports and things like that. That will be important.”
By Sgt. Daniel Stoutamire
Sgt. Daniel Stoutamire | 2ND ABCT
Soldiers with the 299th BSB work to mount an M2 .50-caliber machine gun onto a Humvee the morning of Dec. 8 at Fort Riley’s training areas. The battalion conducted dry- and live-fire iterations of convoy security operations training, meant to ensure it can secure itself and allow the brigade to maximize its combat effectiveness.