News: Providers train replacements in Italy
Story by Spc. Michael Camacho
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — Two advisers with the 49th Transportation Battalion (Movement Control) traveled from Joint Base Balad, Iraq, to Vicenza, Italy, to assist in a four-day pre-deployment exercise with the 14th Transportation Battalion.
The 14th Trans. Bn., out of Vicenza, is slated to replace the 49th Trans. Bn. in April, and become the headquarters movement control battalion in charge of sustainment operations in Iraq, said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Donnie Black, a mobility warrant officer with the 49th Trans. Bn., 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and a Sweet Water, Ala., native. The exercise was designed to train and certify the 14th Trans. Bn. Soldiers for their new mission, said Black.
With only six movement control battalions in the active Army, they provide a specialized function for the sustainment commands they serve under in theater, he said.
A MCB manages the transportation assets that move on the roads from base to base in Iraq, said Black. This includes managing traffic, prioritizing what cargo needs to be moved and facilitating the quality control of cargo throughout the country, he said.
Capt. Allison Bergstrom, the highway traffic division chief with the 49th and a Minneapolis native, said the exercise simulated a four-day MCB mission in support of sustainment operations.
"For four full days, the 14th acted as the MCB [in Iraq]," she said. "They followed the same battle rhythm we follow here. It's not going to teach them everything from A to Z about transportation. It's meant to get their feet in the water so when they get here they don't come in blind."
Bergstrom said she and Black watched over the 14th Trans. Bn. as the unit adapted to the type of mission it would have in Iraq.
"We were there, standing behind them every step ... and there to answer their questions," she said. "We were there to give them an initial picture of what it is they're going to be doing as the [only] MCB in Iraq."
Black and Bergstrom met with the leadership and operation staff to discuss the unit's mission, said Bergstrom.
"We gave our recommendations on how they should manage their people with the numbers they have," she said.
Black said normal transportation battalions have truck companies under them, but MCBs only have movement control teams.
"They support the sustainment brigades and [combat sustainment support battalions] that control the [transportation] assets," said Black.
The mission in Iraq is an ever-evolving one, said Bergstrom. The operation of MCBs has changed to meet the needs of the Warfighters and the redevelopment of Iraq, she said.
The 14th Soldiers were overwhelmed at first, but as the missions continued, they became more knowledgeable and comfortable with MCB operations, she said.