News: Truck operations on Victory Base Complex
Story by 1st Lt. Anne Sikorra
CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq — First Platoon of the 1161st Transportation Company, 21st Cargo Transfer Company, 620th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 10th Sustainment Brigade is a crucial player in supporting the Multi-National Division — Baghdad forces located on Victory Base Complex.
Mobilized March 8, 2009, out of Washington, the National Guard unit deployed to Camp Atterbury, Ind., for training and into Iraq to complete a 400-day tour in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom 09-11. The first few months of the deployment have been relentless, and there are no signs that the operational tempo will slow.
First Platoon is comprised of Soldiers from the 1041st Transportation Company out of Spokane, Wash., the 1161st Trans. Company out of Ephrata, Wash., and the Individual Ready Reserve from California, Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, Iowa and Connecticut. Although many of the Soldiers are from different areas, they have developed a very tight-knit bond which has made their deployment so far an enjoyable one, sharing their many different life experiences. First Platoon goes by the motto "Drive On" and is under the supervision of 1st Lt. Anne Sikorra of Bonney Lake, Wash., and Sgt. 1st Class Jeffrey Woodyard of Spokane, Wash. The platoon supports three highly visible and important missions supporting the coalition forces on Victory Base Complex.
Operating the M915 tractor and M872 trailer system, the section is the main water delivery asset on VBC picking up water from the Oasis Water Point and delivering to all the mayor cells, dining facilities and camps from one end of VBC to the other.
In addition to the water missions they support the Centralized Receiving and Shipping Point on VBC by transporting various cargo containers, 463L pallets, and wooden skids to the 30,000 Soldiers and contractors living there.
The CRSP receives the highest volume of cargo of any other CRSP yard in theater. The 1161st's M915s are a key asset in accomplishing the delivery of local cargo assisting in the 10th SB commander's CRSP reduction strategy. First Platoon also supports local customers on VBC by filling transportation movement requests that are received at the 620th CSSB Support Operations Office. Often when units do not have enough transportation assets or KBR trucks are unable to support the entire movement, 1-1161st is called upon to assist in accomplishing their movements.
First Platoon of the 1161st operates out of a Motor Pool which holds 20 M915s and 35 M872s, which are all used on a daily basis. They have a maintenance motor sergeant, SAMS-E clerk, and wheeled mechanic who assist in the mission readiness of the trucks. The platoon is broken down into three squads that are each assigned their own trucks and trailers. One squad per month is assigned to the CRSP yard as their main mission while the other two squads run the water missions. The first three days of each week the maintenance bay is filled with trucks and Soldiers performing their weekly truck and trailer inspections called the quality assurance & quality control inspection. Following a strict inspection sheet, the Soldiers get on top, in, under and around their systems to check for any problems, ensuring their vehicles are functioning at their best and preventing any future problems. This is also an opportunity for the Soldiers to work directly with the maintenance team lead by a very experienced military mechanic and two specialists on ordering parts, replacing parts and diagnosing mechanical problems that are identified above the operator level.
To date, 1st Platoon of the 1161st has hauled more than 2,265 pieces of cargo, more than 19,225 pallets of water, completed approximately 1,151 missions, and is logging well in excess of 38,255 miles in the three months since arriving in theater.
From the first few weeks in country, the water missions increased drastically from a typical 1,000 pallets of water per week to more than 1,800. One M915 can safely haul a maximum of 20 pallets of water which in a typical week with 1,800 pallets would come to 90 different trips in and out of the Oasis water point.
It is not difficult for 1st Platoon to rack up the miles since VBC is one of the largest military bases in Iraq. Driving the narrow, improved and unimproved roads with sharp corners and plenty of traffic, 1st Platoon's driving experience has vastly improved with their daily road time. During the first week, 1st Platoon averaged around 1,800 miles but in the last month and a half that average has turned into roughly 3,600 miles per week which has kept the entire platoon busy on the road.
Since taking over the motor pool in May, 1st Platoon has worked countless hours to improve the current conditions in which they work. Currently they are working on getting the office trailer hooked up to prime power since they are presently running off of a generator. This will be a great achievement and will benefit future rotations. First Platoon made improvements to their outdoor fitness area with a shade screen as well as adding a punching bag to their small make-shift gym. Another improvement was the wood floor built by the Soldiers in the shade tent. Although these improvements seem minute, they make a big difference to the working environment.
First Platoon of the 1161st Trans. Company is looking forward to the busy days ahead supporting the Soldiers and contractors on VBC. They are also looking forward to the cooler weather before they redeploy in February 2010.