Written by Sgt. Sinthia Rosario
101st Sustainment Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (AA) Public Affairs
Fort Campbell, KY – Soldiers with the 584th Support Maintenance Company, 129th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 101st Sustainment Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, conducted field maintenance and sustainment operations training, September 15th through Friday.
The training ensured the Soldiers are ready for any combat mission and improved their Soldier skills.This exercise also exposed the Soldiers to likely combat missions during a deployment by simulating the scenarios and tasks they could encounter.
“We want to keep this training as realistic as possible,” said Capt. Michelle E. Troesch, commander of the 584th SMC “Warpath.” “We’re conducting convoy operations with IED [improvised explosive device] lanes. We are conducting qualifying marksmanship ranges, sling load operations to validate our Air Assault proficiency, night driving training and land navigation.”
There are other areas the command had identified, which needed minimal improvement, but the command felt confident the unit as a whole was on the road to success. The leadership was thrilled to have the chance to test their Soldiers skills and help build on to it.
“There is always room for improvement,” said Troesch. “My Soldiers push themselves and demonstrate constantly that they are up for whatever challenge is thrown their way, especially any training that will better prepare them for any deployment.”
During the training, the unit had conducted field level maintenance set in a simulated deployed environment instead of their normal motor pool bay work area. The Soldiers understood the need to adapt and work in different environments out of their comfort zone. The leadership pushed their Soldiers to train hard, but always ensured the Soldiers took proper safety measures with every task.
“Being a maintenance company the need for maintenance in combat in these times is pretty important. However, with the assets we have in the 101st we need to know how to properly rig our equipment and properly sling load it,” said 1st Sgt. Brian K. Walker, 584th SMC. “If we’re unable to move across land then we need to be able to move it by air.”
The Warpath Soldiers rigged generators, Humvees and water buffalos. This part of the training is a vital process prior to any sling load operation. Properly rigged and inspected loads are key to mission success and to Soldier and equipment safety.
“Safety is our number one. We want to ensure that the load is properly hooked up, properly tied down and the breakaways are correctly done to ensure the people on the ground are safe when the equipment is in the air and that our mission is 100 percent complete in ensuring the equipment makes it from point A to point B,” Walker said.
To ensure the safety of the personnel on the ground, the Soldiers on the aircraft and the equipment itself, the Warpath Soldiers meticulously inspected all the sling load equipment such as the sling legs, hooks and chain links. They looked for signs of corrosion or anything that may cause complications.
“We want to make sure that the chain is not corroded, it’s serviceable and all the links are connected. It is important that these chains are serviceable for when the helicopter comes to pick up the load you don’t want it to break away,” said Spc. John A. Reed, a 584th SMC wheeled vehicle mechanic.
As Reed continued to rig one of their humvees, he added, “This humvee doesn’t have any doors so we have to make sure everything is strapped down so that when it’s mid air nothing falls out and cause any damage to the people on the ground.”
Private 1st Class Johnjames M. Andrews, also a wheeled vehicle mechanic with the 584th, said even the smallest details matter.
“It’s just the little things, like the steering wheel not being locked in place, it can throw the load off and pose safety issues, which can have a negative impact on our mission,” said Andrews. “We practice rigging our equipment continuously because there’s no room for mistakes.”
As the training progressed, so did the Soldiers. The Soldiers began to demonstrate the experience and knowledge needed to complete their mission. They also gained confidence in their work performance and in their equipment and improved their ability to work as a team.
“I think it’s outstanding training, really tests the Soldiers’ abilities, puts them in a higher stress environment as it would deployed and really builds their confidence and capabilities,” said Troesch. “All of the Soldiers are very motivated and really excited to be out of the motor pool and operating and testing their abilities. I’m so proud of all their accomplishments; I couldn’t have asked for a better group of Soldiers than the ones I have working for me.”