FORT POLK — Just like most every other business, organization or individual, the Army uses trucks to move the essential equipment and necessities crucial to keeping its mission on target.
The difference is these are heavy-duty armored trucks and vehicles made to handle the worst that can happen down range.
Not to mention, most truck drivers don’t have to worry about things like logistics, teamwork, perimeter defense or small-arms fire.
So how do Soldiers not only learn to handle these mechanical beasts while under pressure due to everything from inclement weather to enemy attack, but also get their precious cargo where it needs to be? They train.
Soldiers from the 383rd Movement Control Company, and the 41st Transportation Company, attached to the 519th Military Police Battalion, joined forces to tackle the task of moving equipment and troops from one location to the next from Jan. 14 through today at the Johnsonville and Rosepine training areas just off La. Hwy 10.
Capt. Stephen Scott, 383rd MCT commander, said the purpose of the 383rd is what its name suggests — movement control.
“We synchronize movements across a theater. Typically, an MCT is a division or theater level asset that might be attached to a brigade combat team. We are in some way, shape or form the ones who are organizing and advancing movements that help build and better sustain combat power across an area of operation,” he said.
1st Lt. Fredrick Haynes, 41st Transportation Company executive officer, said his company transports troops, performs transportation movement release missions for things like containers, food, water or whatever needs to be moved on Fort Polk.
“We also support the Joint Readiness Training Center during every rotation and the military police by manning access control points,” he said.
The units have similar training objectives that include unit defense and tactical convoy operations, said Scott, which is why they are working together during this joint training mission.
For the 383rd, Scott said the training mission is also an opportunity to work on specific tasks pertaining to the movement control team.
“Some of the 383rd’s specific administrative and operational functions include being able to track movements, process movement requests and conduct the analysis to determine what assets are needed to make that movement happen.
That’s when the 41st comes into play, as they are the assets. MCT is receiving the request from a unit or organization and assessing it and the 41st is making it happen,” said Scott.
The importance of this training for the 41st is learning to think on the move, said Haynes.
“Once we get the transportation movement request from the 383rd, we make a plan and get out there and do it. This training is helping us learn how to make it all come together,” he said.
Haynes said he thinks the training also provides an important opportunity for Soldiers to learn to work together.
Though the Soldiers from both companies know their jobs inside out when performing their own MOS (military occupational specialty), he said they don’t have a lot of experience taking that knowledge and making it work with other Soldiers in different specialties.
“During a mission, you have to come together to make a things happen. You don’t want to bump heads. At the end of the day we have to work together as a team to complete the mission successfully. This is the kind of training that helps us learn to do that,” he said.
1st Lt. Sean Carmody, 383rd executive officer, said these Soldiers perform their jobs on a daily basis by transporting containers, troops and the like all over Fort Polk.
Training in a field setting enables them to tap into the tactical aspect of what they need to do to be proficient in and able to execute on a moment’s notice.
“This training takes these Soldiers into a headspace in which they aren’t just truck drivers, but Soldiers that need to be able to shoot, move and communicate while still operating these vehicles,” he said. “For the 383rd, what we are looking at during this training is still a tactical element, but in addition, we have to consider unit defense.
How can we be in place at our checkpoints and observation points and still provide security for ourselves while enabling the onward movement and control of these transportation missions?”
Some of the situations Soldiers encounter during the training mission, in addition to moving men and cargo around, include conducting battle drills pertaining to different enemy threats and reacting to small-arms fire, improvised explosive devices and disabled vehicles.
The following is a list of some of the vehicles used to conduct the training:
• 16 palletized load system trucks — this tactical truck carries its payloads on demountable flatrack cargo beds and has a built in hydraulic load-handling system. The driver is capable of loading or unloading the truck without leaving the cab.
• 3 M1165 HMMWV — a general purpose HMMWV used for a variety of missions from command and control to armed patrol.
• 6 MII51 HMMWV — the M1151 provides for a weapons mount and turret for various weapons systems.
• 1 M1078 — a light medium tactical vehicle designed to transport cargo and Soldiers.
“The 1075s are the large palletized loading system trucks that really make the missions happen and get that equipment moved from one location to another, with the Humvees and gun trucks taking up a supporting role,” said Scott.
The commander and executive officers agree that overall readiness is the true purpose of this training event.
“We are challenging team leaders by making them think outside the box. They are starting to take other things into consideration as they prepare their Soldiers for missions, the enemy and any other uncertainties that might occur,” said Scott.
In addition, the companies are also being evaluated.
“This exercise is also a company-level external evaluation for both units. We have evaluators out here from the battalion and task force sustainment and Operations Group that are looking specifically at company level operations and how the company leadership is conducting basic troop leading procedures, mission analysis and working with units to accomplish the mission,” said Scott.
Cpl. Shonn Daite, 41st, said taking part in the training mission has helped him sharpen his tactical skills while learning to be ready at all times for anything to happen.
“This training is important because without it we would never know how to do what we need to do,” he said.
Pfc. Miguel Anaya, a 383rd Soldier, said taking part in the training has helped him better learn his job by honing his ability to keep track of everything.
“We have to focus on company level operations such as securing the site, setting up and moving cargo in addition to working on our leadership skills,” he said.
Carmody said these types of training events also enable Soldiers to strive for a greater future.
“This type of training not only allows Soldiers to improve their tactical skills but also puts them in the mindset of being adaptable and better able to overcome new obstacles in uncertain times. The 41st and 383rd are growing and evolving in our further integration into the garrison mission for supporting JRTC to further integrate and enable readiness Army wide,” he said.