Written by Staff Sgt. Terrance D. Rhodes
2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (AA) Public Affairs
Fort Polk, LA – When 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) Soldiers found out that they were schedule to train at the Joint Readiness Training Center, Fort Polk, one major topic was being talked about in the “box” – the area in which Soldiers train for war. Before the “Strike” Soldiers can reach the box to train, there are numerous steps that need to happen before the real-world training can begin.
That’s where sustainment operations come in.Regardless if its railhead operations or food and water for Strike Soldiers, sustainment operations are vital to the overall success of the brigade’s mission.
“We are the reach back. We are where they get the supplies,” said Maj. Hank Coleman, the support operations officer with the 129th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 101st Sustainment Brigade, 101st Airborne Division.
Before their DATE (decisive action training exercise) with Geronimo – the moniker of the opposing forces who are stationed at Fort Polk and aid in the training of brigade combat teams that rotate through JRTC – there are everyday tasks that can’t be overlooked.
“All of the water that is pushed out to Strike is coming from right here from a creek running along the intermediate staging base,” said Coleman.
The ISB is where the brigade stages prior to deploying to the box. Once there, 129th CSSB still plays a major role in the fight.
“The sustainment and support officers in Strike are doing great things, making sure the battalions have what they need, but when the brigade support battalion moves forward in the box, they reach back to us to get what they need,” Coleman said.
Another key element is the moving and staging of vehicles and managing every piece of equipment.
“We will receive all vehicles and equipment during this rotation,” said Capt. Jared Peacock, commander of the 613th Movement Control Team, 129th CSSB, 101st Sustainment Brigade. “And it’s our job to make sure that all those vehicles get to the correct personnel.”
MILES gear is like laser tag equipment but more advanced. This allows personnel and certain equipment to know when they’ve been hit by enemy fire.
Next, the vehicles are tracked by unit deployment list for accountability and pushed out to the staging area to convoy to the ISB. Once at the ISB, the vehicles are staged in the ground assault convoy. Lastly, the vehicles are lined up and ready for deployment into the box.
“It’s very important to get the vehicles and equipment lined up in a certain order,” said Peacock. “When ‘D-day’ comes for us to deploy into the box, we don’t want the units to struggle or to miss [start of patrol] times.”
“Regardless if the units air assault in or by ground movement, we want to set them up for success,” said Peacock.
With over 1,560 pieces of equipment to account for, the challenge is to make sure everybody is on the same sheet of music.
“It’s been difficult because we are short on man power, but we are making it happen, because every Soldier counts and we need them,” said Peacock.
The brigade is scheduled to return from JRTC in mid-October.