JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – The Headquarters Support Company, 46th Aviation Support Battalion conducted a field training exercise Aug. 8 to incorporate its multiple support capabilities in a joint scenario.
Operations for the maintenance platoon and medical platoon focused on conducting convoys, recovering disabled vehicles, feeding Soldiers from a field kitchen site and treating patients in a mass casualty capacity.
“We have four major functions as a headquarters support company. The primary function is the battalion staff. The second piece is the medical assets. Next are the dining facility personnel … and the last piece is the maintainers,” said Capt. Adam M. Bolliger, HSC commander.
The importance of the HSC’s mission reaches far beyond the boundaries of the company and battalion headquarters.
“The headquarters support company of a battalion maintains all the wheeled vehicles for each company in the ASB … so Company A, B and C do not have any maintainers or wreckers on their MTOE (Modified Table of Organization and Equipment),” Bolliger said.
“Most of the stuff in this company is to support the entire battalion, not just this company.”
Once the convoy of 67 soldiers arrived to the training site, teams set up base operations and drove straight into their first training objective of convoy operations.
Four iterations of convoys rolled out to a lane where soldiers were responsible for detecting roadside bombs and engaging role-playing opposing forces in accordance with the rules of engagement. The maintenance specific portion of the training lane used a Heavy Expander Mobility Tactical Truck to tow disabled vehicles during the convoy.
“Our OPFOR did not have a script they were following so the soldiers’ reactions were instantaneous,” Bolliger said.
OPFOR attempted to taunt, provoke and engage the convoys in non-hostile means prior to igniting a simulated explosion engaging the soldiers, using blank ammunition.
During each mock firefight, one vehicle was identified as disabled by observer-controllers, which immediately changed the parameters of the mission to guard the wrecker vehicle as it completed its mission.
Following the first half of the day’s field exercise, the 46th ASB dining facility personnel had the chance for a 2-for-1 opportunity as they practiced in field conditions but also practiced for the Army’s Philip A. Connelly Competition.
“We usually try to do training every Thursday back in the rear and try to incorporate a new piece of field equipment that we don’t use every day so that they are ready when we do go to the field or deploy,” said Staff Sgt. Darnell L Mullen, field site shift leader.
“One of the biggest things when we come out to the field is sanitation and hygiene. We also have to make sure that they (team) is trained on how to work the generators and other equipment like the MBU (modern burner unit).”
After the food operations of feeding all of the soldiers at the site, six combat medics and one officer-in-charge prepared a field medical site to receive an unknown number of casualties with various types and severities of wounds.
“A lot of soldiers don’t get enough time to go out and train on a lot of stuff we don’t use back at the 16th CAB (Combat Aviation Brigade) Aide Station, so we have to get out and open everything up, put it together and use it in a field environment,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jennifer Bunce, medical platoon sergeant.
With the first wave of simulated casualties were being littered, carried or helped to the medical tent, the medics hit their positions and began the triage process by administering first aide.
Outside the medical tent, medics multitasked between identifying the more severe patients while directing combat lifesaver certified personnel on first aide for other patients.
“We did a class beforehand on proper triaging, what kind of injuries would fall into what category and establishing triage areas,” Bunce said.
Inside the tent, patients on litters filed in as medics took vitals, addressed life-threatening injuries and prepped patients to be transported to another location.
By the end of the mass casualty portion of the exercise, the medical station treated and prepped 14 soldiers.
“I hope my soldiers learned to train as they fight so that they can get some exposure to what a MASCAL is like, because a lot of them are new,” Bunce said. “I want them to be able to step up in a leadership position in case someone goes down.”
Following the final portion of the field exercise, the soldiers and leadership from HSC got together to discuss the day’s events prior to returning to their company headquarters.
“The day went really good because we got to train on some things that we usually don’t get to train on together as a unit,” Bolliger said. “It was great to see soldiers step up when others became casualties in scenarios.”