News: Army Reserve Soldiers simulate convoy operations at QLLEX
Story by Spc. Justin Snyder
FORT BRAGG, N.C. – When advance party Soldiers from the 431st Quartermaster Detachment arrived here in support of the 2014 Quartermaster Liquid Logistics Exercise (QLLEX), operationally controlled by the 633rd Quartermaster Battalion, they came knowing they would be providing fresh, purified water in support of their surrounding operations.
They set up tents, hundreds of feet of hose, multiple water bags and quickly turned pond water into that suitable for drinking, showering and laundry.
“Since day one we have been working from the ground up to satisfy the needs of the QLLEX mission,” said Staff Sgt. Nikki Jones, a water treatment specialist with the 431st QM Det. out of Kinston, N.C. “We all have a specific goal to be proficient in our (jobs).”
However, while honing their job skills is important, in their down time the Soldiers have taken the opportunity to sharpen their basic Soldier skills by taking classes such as combat lifesaving.
On June 13, in partnership with Soldiers from the 430th Quartermaster Company from Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico, the 431st QM Det. furthered their military education by practicing their tactics, techniques and procedures for convoy operations using the reconfigurable vehicle tactical trainer simulators here.
Four separate trailers house the simulators and allow for Soldiers to practice convoy operations in a virtual environment specifically designed to satisfy units’ needs.
Two trailers house real-sized simulated Humvees equipped with radio communications and virtual weaponry. Each vehicle has the ability to hold five soldiers.
The Humvee has the capability to be transformed into a military tanker for specific missions and is surrounded 360 degrees with screens that display a virtual town designed for different routes throughout Afghanistan and Iraq.
“It’s pretty realistic and a good opportunity for training,” said Spc. Thomas Watkins, a water treatment specialist with the 431st QM Det. “The simulators allow for me to be in multiple roles like convoy commander, gunner and driver. It will benefit us as Soldiers in the long run.”
A separate trailer is used for operations and allows for instructors to oversee the missions and make adjustments based on how the soldiers are reacting. The routes and scenarios are not limited and can be adjusted within seconds to accommodate the Soldiers. The fourth trailer houses equipment for maintenance purposes.
On this day the Soldiers simulated both a day and nighttime mission in 30-minute iterations. They were forced to compete for road space with local population, identify and react to improvised explosive devices and deal with indirect fire.
One of the main areas the Soldiers focused on improving was communicating using proper radio etiquette.
“Communication is key when it comes to anything,” said Watkins, a native of New Bern. “We are in here playing a game, but in the battlefield, the game is serious and can be the difference in life or death. That’s why proper communication is so important.”
Staff Sgt. Charlotte Burgos, 430th QM Co. Soldier and driver for the exercise, deployed to Iraq in 2005. While overseas she served as a convoy commander, and she believes the simulators provided a realistic scenario Soldiers can benefit from in the long run.
“Being inside the vehicle and having to use the radios to communicate took me back to being overseas,” said Burgos, a native of Carolina, Puerto Rico. “You can’t always see what is around you so you have to rely on your ears and communications to stay safe.
“The radio is the only thing that keeps you in contact with the Soldiers and vehicles in front of and behind you. Learning to use the radios and using proper lingo here is crucial in staying alive.”
Following the completion of the training scenarios, the Soldiers were able to view their virtual missions in trailer three and talk about how they can get better for future convoy operations.
As they return to their regular jobs and continue to support the QLLEX mission for its remaining time, the Soldiers believe they are better equipped for the chance they will be deployed.
“As an Army Reserve Soldier, you never know where life will call you,” said Jones, a native of Maysville. “The training here allows for the Soldiers to make mistakes and learn from it so they are prepared for the real deal downrange.
“I would recommend that other units put the simulators into their training plans,” she said. “It’s a great tool for learning and is efficient in showing Soldiers an important side of the Army.”
Date Posted:06.14.2014 10:07
Location:FORT BRAGG, NC, US
Hometown:KINSTON, NC, US
Hometown:MAYSVILLE, NC, US
Hometown:NEW BERN, NC, US
Hometown:NORFOLK, VA, US