News: Transportation drives Vibrant Response
Story by Spc. Dani Salvatore
CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. - Transportation is what makes Vibrant Response 14 possible. Troops and supplies are necessary to conduct the missions for the exercise, and transportation professionals work out the logistics to get them where they need to go.
Vibrant Response 14 is a major field training exercise conducted by U.S Northern Command and led by U.S. Army North. This is the largest confirmation exercise that Department of Defense conducts for its specialized response forces, and they all need transportation for themselves as well as their supplies.
“If the transportation mission wasn’t accomplished, Vibrant Response would not be possible,” said 1st Lt. Mitchell Vaughan, a Chesterfield, Michigan, native with the 406th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, Task Force 76. The 406th is an Army Reserve unit from Michigan.
Vaughan is a support operations transportation/mobility officer and supports many of the logistical operations necessary for the exercise.
One of the transportation unit’s missions is to get military personnel to and from the Indiana National Airport, a round trip of more than 100 miles.
Due to common flight delays, traffic, road construction and confusion with when and where transportation pick-ups take place, this particular mission can be challenging.
Vaughan said his team works hard to adjust operations to compensate for changing circumstances common to the mobility field.
Transportation does more than shuttle military personnel and contractors to and from Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center, Indiana. Their team conducts many “life sustaining” missions such as fuel, meal and ice runs, to make them available to all military personnel participating in the exercise.
“We are providing most of the life support that the task forces need,” said Vaughan.
Logistical difficulties don’t end once the units arrive at Camp Atterbury. Transporting people around the camp is another task for the transportation specialists.
National Guardsman Chief Warrant Officer 4 Timothy Gibbs, a Century, Florida, native, and ground maintenance warrant officer with the 167th Theater Sustainment Command, Alabama National Guard, is responsible for accounting for and maintaining all contracted vehicles for Vibrant Response, and issuing the vehicles to units participating in the exercise.
Due to the variety of needs, the vehicles are not limited to your standard sedan; the lot offers a variety of vehicles including refrigerated box trucks, pick-ups, buses and even 53-foot trailers.
Accountability is a top priority for the lot, and the condition of the vehicles must be maintained.
The vehicles are signed out to a unit representative and they must sign a hand receipt accepting responsibility for the vehicle’s condition.
“We inspect their vehicles to insure there is no damage to the vehicle that was not there when the vehicle was signed out,” said Gibbs.
He also offered words of advise to those who sign out a transportation motor pool vehicle.
“The biggest tip is you don’t need to be somewhere you don’t need to be,” said Gibbs. “These vehicles are to be used to support this mission, not as a personally owned vehicle.”
In order to accomplish transportation’s missions vital to Vibrant Response 14, both Gibbs and Vaughan have identified key elements to complete their transportation missions.
“This is the first time I have run the TMP lot for Vibrant Response, and I have learned a lot,” said Gibbs. “Maintain control of equipment, if you lose accountability and control then you have a big nightmare on your hands.”
To make sure accountability is maintained it is important for everyone to work together.
“It is important to learn how to work most efficiently with one another,” said Vaughan. He credits teamwork for successful transportation operations.
Vaughan and Gibbs take pride in their transportation missions.
“The best thing about being in transportation is being able to see how you impact the mission more clearly,” said Vaughan. He said he enjoys observing the direct impact his missions have on other unit’s ability to complete their duties.
“Transportation needs to be a Soldier’s last worry,” said Gibbs. He said military personnel and DOD employees have their own missions to focus on, and his goal is to equip them to do so.