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    Award-winning unit sets sights on Iraq for second time

    Award-winning unit sets sights on Iraq for second time

    Photo By Sgt. 1st Class Peter Eustaquio | Sgt. Jaime Riverra, 257th Transportation Company, adjusts his weapon during his...... read more read more

    UNITED STATES

    02.20.2008

    Story by Sgt. Rob Cooper 

    Camp Atterbury Public Affairs

    By Rob Cooper
    Crier staff writer

    LAS VEGAS – For Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, many units are called upon time and time again to support not only the active Army, but other branches and coalition forces. This year, a unit that served in the first phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom is getting a second chance to provide their expertise in the theater.

    The 257th Transportation Company covered more than 2 million miles of heavy equipment transportation the last time it was deployed to the desert.
    And it's about to do it again.

    The company, headquartered in Las Vegas, is preparing to deploy to Iraq in early spring.
    Specializing in hauling the largest equipment in the military, the 257th prides itself in the ability to move anything from tanks to entire battalions.

    "We take the best and most experienced the of (Army truck drivers) and turn them into special operators for heavy equipment," said 1st Sgt. Jerry McClelland, the unit's first sergeant. "By doing this, we are able to drive the largest trucks in the Army's inventory and haul the largest payload, which is usually 40 tons and up. We can also relocate and maneuver heavy forces into the field, moving large unit who aren't to move on their own."

    On their last deployment, they moved the Polish and Czech armies into theater and moved tanks that supported many front line operations.

    "For us, we were the invasion force. Now, we're there to the peoples' hearts and not run over their toes," McClelland said.

    The National Transportation Safety Administration awarded the 257th with Army Unit of the Year for their mission. McClelland said that this time, they aren't out to win any awards; they just want to help coalition forces and the Iraqi people.

    "About 10 percent that's going this time are veterans on our last deployment," he said. "There's a training benefit to that, since these vets are now senior leaders and everyone know what needs to be done. Last time, we had purpose and motivation. Now, we have purpose, motivation and direction."

    Capt. Valeria Anderson, the unit's commander, said the veteran experience pays off immensely.
    "Having this experience is a good thing because it gives you a chance to have a number of different ideas and viewpoints," she said. "You always hear (the veterans) talking about their stories to the younger Soldiers. We've always told them to tell the stories, because you never know when that will help them overall. They're getting a feel for what it will be like."
    Anderson, who previously worked with mobilizing Soldiers at Camp Shelby, Miss., said that it's exciting to be in the same position.

    "Because I was previously training mobilizing Soldiers, I get to see the other side of going through the same training, which allows me to enhance it by giving additional guidance," she said. "The No. 1 thing I tell the Soldiers is to not get complacent. You drive home that even though you've been there a while, you must always be alert."

    "I think that they love the training," Anderson added. "The 205th (Infantry Brigade) is very good at letting us get that hands-on training, and we really appreciate it. The training is exactly like what we will be doing over there. We'll do fine overseas."

    In addition to training and experience, McClelland said that the way units deploy and move under the fairly-new Army Force Generation model is paying off. Designed to deploy and re-deploy Soldiers on a six-year cycle, the ARFORGEN makes units more modular, allowing them to fill necessary roles in theaters around the world.

    "There are less than 30 (heavy equipment transportation) units in the Department of Defense, so the big equipment doesn't move with our rotations into country," McClelland said. "I know who I'm replacing because of the way ARFORGEN works. When we reached our mobilization date our replacement received their alert."

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 02.20.2008
    Date Posted: 02.20.2008 16:11
    Story ID: 16528
    Location: US

    Web Views: 260
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