16th STB Soldiers practice convoy techniques during training exercise
Armorer Spc. Joshua Judy (left), and Cpl. Zachery Flores, a military schools clerk, both with the 16th Special Troops Battalion, 16th Sustainment Brigade, prepare for movement during a convoy live fire exercise at the Grafenwoehr Training Area, Grafenwoehr, Germany Jan. 23. (Photo by 1st Lt. Kelly Cecil, 16th STB Public Affairs)
By 1st Lt. Kelly Cecil
16th STB Public Affairs
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany- What makes a successful convoy? Is it the convoy commander's brief? Is it the assistant convoy commander's thorough pre-combat checks and inspections? Or, is it the crew's steadfast motivation and commitment to accomplish the mission?
Soldiers of the 16th Special Troops Battalion, 16th Sustainment Brigade, found out it was a little of all of these when they conducted a convoy live fire exercise Jan. 23 here at the Grafenwoehr Training Area. The intent of the exercise was to enhance Soldiers' troop leading procedures and convoy specific tasks and drills.
"On the modern battlefield Soldiers are required to operate well outside of their assigned Military Occupational Specialty," said Sgt. Dustin Strain, an operations noncommissioned officer with the 16th Sust. Bde. and a trainer at the range. "It is imperative that Soldiers of every job is capable of leaving the security of the Forward Operating Base and make it back alive. The intent during this rotation was to provide a training exercise for the Soldiers and leadership to concentrate on combat tasks that are MOS immaterial."
On the convoy live fire range, Soldiers conducted four convoys; dry fire, blank fire, and a daytime and nighttime live fire. Implementing safety during the training was of major importance, given that some Soldiers had never been a gunner before.
The range was conducted in a crawl, walk and run phase to see how Soldiers would react to situations while on a moving gun truck. The crawl phase included training on the Reconfigurable Vehicular Training System (RVTT) training, transverse turret training, submitting 9-line medical evacuation reports, as well as improvised explosive device and unexploded ordnance reports. During the walk phase Soldiers were put in the turret and had to maneuver through both dry and blank fire convoys. Finally, in the run phase, Soldiers maneuvered the trucks, firing live ammunition to conduct a day and night platoon size convoy to complete a simulated mission.
The convoy commander had the crucial responsibility of receiving the mission, gathering intelligence, and most importantly, leading the convoy. Noncommissioned officers taught battlefield fundamentals such as transverse of turrets, ensuring Soldiers understand their sectors of fire in a deployed environment and the introduction of basic communication skills. Soldiers learned how to adapt to communication interference by quickly adjusting tactics by relaying command and control information to higher headquarters. When the first gun truck encountered an IED along the route, the crew submitted an Unexploded Ordnance report to higher headquarters right away.
"It was basically trial and error, it was hands on and there is stuff you cannot teach unless you do it," said Sgt. Jahon Matthews, a 16th STB cable systems installer. Matthews was the truck commander that identified and reported the UXO. "Communication comes from every angle and lets you see the wide spectrum of the battlefield, i.e. the big picture so that you know where everything is and what's out there."
"In any mission, whether or not it takes place in a garrison environment or especially combat operations, you will meet challenges and adversity," said Staff Sgt. Moses Toliver, a 16th Sust. Bde. tactical signal support system specialist and assistant convoy commander. "Motivation and discipline are two major traits instilled within every Soldier. Combined with your warrior ethos, this will help you not only meet those challenges but dominate over adversity."