National Guard July 2012 : Page 36
STATE ROUNDUP Night Drivers WENTY-FIVE ENORMOUS vehicles linked by radio waves and a common purpose, rumble like a freight train through the night. Their objective: Drive 200 miles T Louisiana Guard truck company braves deadly Afghan highways under the cover of darkness to keep a forward base supplied south to Forward Operating Base (FOB) Warrior from Bagram Air Base, via Highway 1, one of the most dan-gerous roads in Afghanistan. The convoy, conducted by the Loui-36 siana National Guard’s 1086th Trans-portation Company is led by a gigantic mine-resistant, ambush-protected ve-hicle pushing a mine roller that looks like dozens of giant pallet jack castors attached to a ﬁeld cultivator. Five more MRAPs and an armored wrecker travel behind the scout truck. They are spaced between freight trucks owned and operated by local Afghans hired by the U.S. military to transport all varieties of cargo: office supplies, food, equipment and ammunition. It’s the 1086th’s job to ensure that vital cargo safely reaches the soldiers in the ﬁeld. “We get it done by any means nec-essary,” said Spc. Jonathan Soto, a gun-ner. “Whatever stands in our way, we will overcome and complete the mis-sion.” Inside an MRAP rides a truck com-mander, a gunner and a driver who are | Na tional Guard
Sgt. Ken Scar
Night Drivers<br /> <br /> Louisiana Guard truck company braves deadly Afghan highways under the cover of darkness to keep a forward base supplied<br /> <br /> TWENTY-FIVE ENORMOUS vehicles linked by radio waves and a common purpose, rumble like a freight train through the night.<br /> <br /> Their objective: Drive 200 miles south to Forward Operating Base (FOB) Warrior from Bagram Air Base, via Highway 1, one of the most dangerous roads in Afghanistan.<br /> <br /> The convoy, conducted by the Louisiana National Guard's 1086th Transportation Company is led by a gigantic mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle pushing a mine roller that looks like dozens of giant pallet jack castors attached to a field cultivator.<br /> <br /> Five more MRAPs and an armored wrecker travel behind the scout truck. They are spaced between freight trucks owned and operated by local Afghans hired by the U.S. military to transport all varieties of cargo: office supplies, food, equipment and ammunition.<br /> <br /> It's the 1086th's job to ensure that vital cargo safely reaches the soldiers in the field.<br /> <br /> "We get it done by any means necessary," said Spc. Jonathan Soto, a gunner. "Whatever stands in our way, we will overcome and complete the mission."<br /> <br /> Inside an MRAP rides a truck commander, a gunner and a driver who are encased in their own armored plating from head to toe. The extreme precautions are vital as the roads they travel are plagued with the No. 1 threat to soldiers in this war-improvised explosive devices.<br /> <br /> "It's probably the most dangerous job out there right now," said Spc. Eric Mitchell, a driver.<br /> <br /> "We're on the road constantly and [insurgents] are blowing them up and shooting at us, and it's not like we can grow wings and fly away from it."<br /> <br /> Cramped up and strapped in, the soldiers of the 1086th Transportation Company often ride for more than 20 grueling hours in a stretch, under cover of the night as much as possible.<br /> <br /> Their path takes them through cities and throughout the countryside. While the ride can be picturesque and serene at moments, the 1086th soldiers never stop scanning every square inch around them for any tiny sign of trouble.<br /> <br /> An exposed wire next to the road, a patch of freshly turned dirt, metallic glints of light-anything even slightly suspicious could be deadly in this land.<br /> <br /> Nine months into their one-year tour, nearly every soldier in the unit has been in a convoy that was hit by one of the insurgent's bombs.<br /> <br /> "We got hit, took small arms fire, and I got my [combat action badge] my first mission out," said Spc. Robin Morgan. "But I'm doing what I love. We do it for our families so they can enjoy life back home."<br /> <br /> The 1086th has taken its share of lumps, but the good thing is that, so far, everybody has walked away, said 1st Sgt. Tim Croulet.<br /> <br /> Even without IED attacks, Afghan roads are a memorable experience. Traveling is pretty much a free-for-all. Lanes are nonexistent, and drivers will often make two or three lanes where there should be only one in order to bypass obstacles.<br /> <br /> Convoys are not immune from getting stuck in traffic. And trucks break down. When this happens the entire convoy has to be halted until repairs can be made or the load shifted to a backup truck.<br /> <br /> "Our mechanics are like a NASCAR pit crew," said mission commander Sgt. David Fontenot. "They have to jump out and fix whatever the problem is-quick."<br /> <br /> After two nights of methodical trucking, the convoy finally pulls into FOB Warrior just as the first pale light is coating the horizon.<br /> <br /> Once their cargo is downloaded, the soldiers of the 1086th wearily sack out on any cot or floor space they can find in the transient tents for the day, and then mount up as it gets dark again to begin the return trip.<br /> <br /> The vast majority of the soldiers on the forward operating base won't ever know they were there, but the shelves of the Post Exchange will be restocked or that backhoe they've needed desperately will magically be parked in the motor pool. Once they realize they've been resupplied, there will be no one there to thank.<br /> <br /> By that time, the 1086th will be rolling back down the road.<br /> <br /> Arizona<br /> <br /> Well Drillers Help Construct 'Eco-Dome' in African Village<br /> <br /> Members of the 257th Engineer Detachment (Well Drilling) recently joined with other U.S. service members to help local residents complete the construction of a unique community center in Karabti San, Djibouti.<br /> <br /> Called an "eco-dome" because of its shape and building materials, the structure has one large room and a smaller room for an office on the ground level and living quarters on the second floor.<br /> <br /> Village elders intend to use the structure as a school or clinic. Either way, they believe the project will have a lasting impact on the community, in part because of the construction skills the U.S. troops taught the villagers along the way.<br /> <br /> "Teaching you something is better than giving you money," said Kasim Ali, the village chief. "This [the eco-dome] is good and will last long. It is something good for the village. Thank you."<br /> <br /> Civil affairs personnel with Combined Task Force-Horn of Africa began working with the village on the project late last year. The Arizona Army National Guard engineers joined the effort in the spring.<br /> <br /> Sgt. 1st Class Shane Banks, a member of the 257th, said seeing the progress of the team and the Djiboutians has been exciting because when he and his team first started, the structure was a little over waist high.<br /> <br /> "It's nice to get out and interact with villagers here and be pursuing a worthwhile project," he said The eco-dome is constructed of cement, barbed wire and dirt, all materials that are available in the local area.<br /> <br /> Workers mixed the cement with dirt and water, put the mixture in donated burlap-like bags, and placed barbed wire on top of each bag to grip it in place while the mixture hardened.<br /> <br /> They repeated the process in a spiral until they had a 600-square-foot structure that stands more than 20 feet high.<br /> <br /> - By Staff Sgt. Andrew Caya<br /> <br /> New York<br /> <br /> Law School: Guardsman Leads Class for Afghan Policemen<br /> <br /> A New York Army National Guard officer held a refresher class in Afghan criminal law for the leaders of the Afghan Uniformed Police Qalat Substation 1 in Qalat City, Afghanistan, June 5.<br /> <br /> Maj. Roderick J. Cassidy provided the basic principles and fundamentals of Afghan criminal law so the AUP leadership could educate its patrolmen and provide governance for the populace of the city in southern Afghanistan.<br /> <br /> "The instruction helped to continue building a more professional police force," Cassidy said. "By training the leadership level of the AUP, they will be better able to instruct their subordinates at the checkpoint and substation level."<br /> <br /> He is assigned to the judge advocate general office for the U.S. Army Stabilization and Transition Team, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.<br /> <br /> During the course, Cassidy covered the primary sources of Afghan criminal law and how they interrelate.<br /> <br /> "I also addressed different theories behind punishment and the legal, material and mental elements of a crime," said Cassidy, who has been practicing law for more than 22 years.<br /> <br /> Cassidy said instructing Afghan police officers was unlike any of his previous teaching assignments.<br /> <br /> "I have taught military, criminal and civil law in the United States and this was a unique experience," said Cassidy. "In the U.S., students are often anxious to express their opinions and engage in classroom discussion. In Afghanistan, students often seem interested almost exclusively in what the instructor, as the subject matter expert, has to say during class.<br /> <br /> "They want to absorb as much as possible in the time allotted and can share their personal opinions with each other later."<br /> <br /> - By 1st Lt. Christine Rosalin<br /> <br /> Idaho, Montana and Oregon<br /> <br /> Brigade Among First in Army To Get Advanced Battle Tank<br /> <br /> Soldiers from the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team are among the first Army-wide to receive some of the Army's most up-to-date fighting vehicles.<br /> <br /> The Idaho Army National Guard unit showcased its new M2A3 Bradley fighting vehicles, M3A3 Cavalry fighting vehicles and the M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank System Enhancement Package Version II, during a rollout ceremony for the public June 2 in Boise, Idaho, where the brigade is headquartered.<br /> <br /> The 116th has subordinate units in Montana and Oregon.<br /> <br /> "It takes a special kind of soldier with intellect, capability, commitment and just warfight experience," said Maj. Gen. Timothy Kadavy, the deputy director of the Army National Guard, of what it takes to operate such an advanced fi ghting system.<br /> <br /> "We have that in the Army National Guard and here in Idaho, particularly with the 116th, and that is why these vehicles are here," Kadavy said.<br /> <br /> Brigade soldiers seemed just as enthusiastic about the new vehicles and were eager to show the public their skills.<br /> <br /> "[The Army] having the confidence in us to operate this equipment shows that we can operate at the exact same level as the active component can . . . If not better ," said Staff Sgt. Michael Bautista.<br /> <br /> The 116th, which returned from a deployment to Iraq in 2011, is scheduled to receive 81 M2A3 Bradleys and 58 M1A2 Abrams tanks.<br /> <br /> It is the only Army Guard unit scheduled to receive the most advanced variants of tanks and Bradleys, which will be standard issue in the active- component Army's armored units.<br /> <br /> - By Sgt. Darron Salzer<br /> <br /> Colorado<br /> <br /> Offi cer Finishes Broncos Camp; Continues to Follow NFL Dream<br /> <br /> As another year of the National Football League season nears, National Guardsmen might want to pay closer attention as one of their own may be lining up on the gridiron on Sunday afternoons.<br /> <br /> Second Lt. Benjamin Garland, a new member of the 140th Wing, recently completed the Denver Broncos three-day minicamp, and seemed happy with how things were going.<br /> <br /> "It's always been my dream to play for the Broncos," Garland said. "It's one of the most challenging things [I've] ever experienced. It's tough, it's difficult, but as every airman knows, that's not something you shy away from. It's that challenge every airman loves."<br /> <br /> Garland was a standout defensive end at the Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs, Colo.<br /> <br /> After graduating in 2010, Garland received several free-agent contract offers from NFL teams, including the Broncos.<br /> <br /> During his post-graduation leave from the academy, he tried out for the Broncos and eventually signed a threeyear contract with the team.<br /> <br /> Garland, however, still had to serve two years as an active-component Air Force officer. He was released earlier this year through the Air Force's Palace Chase program, which off ers qualified active-component Air Force officers and enlisted personnel transfers to Guard or Reserve status.<br /> <br /> He was sworn into the Colorado Air Guard on May 30, and will work in the 140th's public affairs shop.<br /> <br /> Broncos head coach John Fox and Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun were both on hand for the event.<br /> <br /> "I think the ultimate commitment and sacrifice is in the U.S. military," Fox said. "I'm not sure you get a better-trained guy than a guy like Ben Garland."<br /> <br /> That training may come in handy over the several months as Garland competes with returning players, draft picks and other free agents for a spot on the roster.<br /> <br /> "It's the professionals. You're talking faster, more powerful and stronger [players]. You can make an error in college and get away with it," he said. "You can can't make an error and get away with it in the NFL."<br /> <br /> - By Senior Airman Christopher Gross<br /> <br /> North Dakota<br /> <br /> Bridge to Somewhere: Troops Repair Critical Span for Town<br /> <br /> For the past two years, visitors to the tiny southeastern North Dakota town of Fort Ransom have asked about the walking bridge they've heard so much about.<br /> <br /> "And we tell them, 'Well, it's over there, but you can't go on it because it's too dangerous,'" said James Thernes, the mayor of Fort Ransom.<br /> <br /> The footbridge, erected in 1975 by local National Guardsmen, was a major access route for residents on the town's south end. It also was a landmark and focal point in the community.<br /> <br /> In 2010, that all changed when a tree lodged in an ice jam and slammed against the bridge, twisting and mangling it.<br /> <br /> After abortive attempts to fix the bridge, Thernes looked to the Guard again. His research eventually led him to the Innovative Readiness Training Program, which provides Guardsmen with training while giving nonprofit organizations and governmental agencies much-needed help.<br /> <br /> "That's what the IRT concept is all about," said Lt. Col. David Skalicky, the IRT manager for the North Dakota Guard. "It allows [Guard members] to get some incredible, quality training and to do communities some outstanding service."<br /> <br /> In Fort Ransom, soldiers from several North Dakota engineer units have been constructing the replacement bridge.<br /> <br /> "Every one of the soldiers will tell you this is the type of training they absolutely love to do," Skalicky said. "It serves the community. It's actually flood-repair oriented, but for them it's incredible skill training, and it's fun."<br /> <br /> The new bridge will have a handicap- accessible ramp on the north side and a landing on the south end that is large enough for a wheelchair to turn around. It will also be three feet higher than the former bridge, further distancing the bottom from any potential flood hazards below.<br /> <br /> "The Guard has been excellent to work with," Thernes said. "They've done a dynamite job. I'm happy as a kid in a candy shop."<br /> <br /> - By Senior Master Sgt. David Lipp<br /> <br /> Guam<br /> <br /> Exercise Kontra I Piligru Tests Maritime Response Ability<br /> <br /> Members of the Guam National Guard recently participated in Kontra I Piligru, a two-day training exercise that tested the abilities of the South Pacific island's first responders.<br /> <br /> The exercise involved the Guam Guard's 94th Civil Support Team, the Port Authority of Guam, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Guam Fire Department, the Guam Police Department and other agencies.<br /> <br /> It was intended to foster integration among local and federal response agencies in reaction to multiple events and at multiple venues, and to a terrorist event in a maritime environment, said Lt. Col. Joseph Limtiaco, the 94th commander.<br /> <br /> "Among the overarching purposes of this exercise were to strengthen relationships between our response partners, as well as promote learning situations through tactical operations that will challenge us in a maritime setting Like this," he said.<br /> <br /> Kontra I Piligru also allowed the first responders and other agencies involved to test the practical application of the National Incident Management System and Incident Command System, according to officials.<br /> <br /> This was the first of what is planned to be an annual maritime exercise for the civil support team members, said Capt. Joseph Connelley, the team's deputy commander.<br /> <br /> The first day of the exercise involved two barrels containing unknown chemicals washing onto the port's beach area.<br /> <br /> Local first responders cordoned off the area and assessed the type of chemicals found, while the U.S. Coast Guard secured the perimeter on the water.<br /> <br /> Once the vessel was secured, members of the 94th's survey team assessed the type of chemicals that were on board the vessel.<br /> <br /> Five members of the New Mexico Guard's 64th Civil Support Team augmented the Guam Guard members throughout the exercise. Four members of the North Carolina Guard's 42nd Civil Support Team assisted as exercise observers/controllers.<br /> <br /> - By Capt. Ken Ola<br /> <br /> Vermont<br /> <br /> Green Mountain Boys Test Gear To Create a Greener Air Force<br /> <br /> Some jobs are louder and dirtier than others, but new emission-reducing technology the 158th Maintenance Group is testing may make a few jobs a bit healthier and cleaner than they are today.<br /> <br /> Working with the Air Reserve/Air National Guard Test Center, the 158th unit is examining two different pieces of equipment that traditionally use diesel fuel, but have been upgraded to run off electrical power.<br /> <br /> The 158th is testing an electrically operated tow vehicle, which is being used in place of the current dieselfueled configuration for aircraft movement, and an electric jammer used for weapons loading on the F-16 Fighting Falcon.<br /> <br /> Electric vehicles have been in use at civilian airports for years, but it's something new for the F-16 aircraft.<br /> <br /> Officials selected the Vermont Air National Guard for the study because a cold-weather base was needed to ensure the vehicles could work in all conditions, indoors and out, said Senior Master Sgt. Alan Bouff ard, a unit member.<br /> <br /> "A lot of southern-tier bases cannot comprehend because they can easily train outside or with the doors open, and for them it's not a big deal," he said. "But [here], in the northern-tier, we have to train with doors closed a lot of time with our winter or heavy rains, so this equipment makes a huge impact."<br /> <br /> For many in the weapons section, the new loading equipment is a positive change.<br /> <br /> "The biggest thing is health," Bouffard said. "They used to have to train in an environment that after a few hours became smoky and hard to breathe in."<br /> <br /> The study and testing of the equipment in Vermont is scheduled to continue for the next few months and Bouffard said he is hoping their input will eventually lead to the widespread use of these machines.<br /> <br /> - By Senior Airmen Victoria Greenia<br /> <br /> Utah <br /> <br /> Won With Translation: Linguists Put Their Skills to Work in Oman<br /> <br /> Soldiers from the 300th Military Intelligence Brigade (Linguist) provided direct Arabic language support during a recent U.S. Army Central Commandsponsored field training exercise in Oman.<br /> <br /> The multinational exercise was intended to strengthen relations between the two countries and promote regional stability by mentoring members of the Omani military forces.<br /> <br /> "The relationships being built are critical to our country because of the importance of this region, and soldiers on both sides will remember this for a lifetime," said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Gary Callister, the Arabic linguist manager for the Utah Army National Guard unit.<br /> <br /> Callister and three other members of the brigade traveled to Oman for the exercise along with soldiers from the Oregon Army Guard and active-component Army.<br /> <br /> The linguists were put right to work during three days of briefings and meet-and-greet events.<br /> <br /> "A lot of the Omani officers spoke English, but if they didn't feel comfortable enough, they wanted to have an American interpreter," said Sgt. Tyler Jiles, a linguist who took part in the exchange.<br /> <br /> Each linguist was assigned to a platoon for the duration of the event and they turned it into a learning exercise by meeting each night to share key words they had learned.<br /> <br /> It took some time for some of the U.S. soldiers to get used to working with the linguists.<br /> <br /> Jiles said the troops would "just spout off a whole five-minute long conversation with no regards to … whether you're going to be able to translate it, and then, even if you could mentally translate everything, you wouldn't have the time to do it [verbally]."<br /> <br /> That took a day or two to work out, he said.<br /> <br /> "Once they realized what our capabilities were, and saw how good we were with the material we had, and our abilities to be able to work and bridge that gap, they really appreciated us," said Jiles.<br /> <br /> - By Sgt. 1st Class Rebecca Doucette
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