CAMP BUEHRING, KUWAIT
CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait — Soldiers with the 155th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) convoyed to Kuwait to train incoming Soldiers with the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment before they travel to Iraq.
The 278th ACR, out of Knoxville, Tenn., trained on Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicles, which they will use for their convoy security duties in Iraq.
Staff Sgt. Jon M. Morgan, an instructor with Task Force 1, 155th Infantry Regiment out of McComb, Miss., 155th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), said his unit gave the incoming Soldiers a thorough rundown of their equipment.
"We've been showing them how to do [preventive maintenance checks and services] on a vehicle," said Morgan, a Biloxi, Miss., native. "We've been showing them the weight distribution of the vehicle, how it handles, how it hits pot holes."
He said the instructors also showed the Soldiers how to prepare their vehicles for convoy missions.
First Lt. John A. Wasik, an executive officer with Headquarter and Headquarters Troop, 2nd Squadron, 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment out of Cookeville, Tenn., said when a unit goes into theater, the incoming and outgoing units usually do a relief in place/transfer of authority, which takes anywhere from two weeks to a month. Wasik, a Cookeville, Tenn., native, said the training the 155th provided allowed his unit to speed up that process.
"We don't have to worry about going outside the wire in country and learning on the fly," he said. "By doing this, it will help us establish any [standard operating procedures] here in [Kuwait] before we go up north. It's going to help our guys tremendously."
Sgt. Joshua W. Lively, a gunner with HHT, 2nd Sqdn., 278th ACR, said the hands-on training was excellent.
"We've had a lot of one-on-one training with the 155th guys," said Lively, a Knoxville, Tenn., native.
He said the instructors answered all of the questions the Soldiers asked and, in turn, asked their trainees about their concerns and needs.
Spc. Adam D. Brown, a gunner with F Troop, 2nd Sqdn, 278th ACR out of McMinnville, Tenn., said he appreciated his trainers' experience.
"It's really good to know, especially being your first time over ... to have that reassurance that you're going to learn something from someone that already knows what's going on," said Brown, a Murfreesboro, Tenn., native. "Not only does it boost our knowledge, it also boosts your confidence in the mission that you're going to do."
In Kuwait, there is time to train on the MRAP and its equipment but in Iraq, there is less time to focus directly on training as Soldiers perform their mission, said Brown. The convoy security mission comes first and on-the-job training comes second, but this training removes such issues.
"You get to go into battle confident, ready and prepared," he said.
Because he is a gunner, Brown said his training in Kuwait provided him with the skills necessary to succeed.
"Pass it on to other gunners what you need to know; know your weapon inside out; be able to take your stuff apart in the dark; no matter what, be prepared for anything," he said. "That's definitely something I've learned here that I want to pass on to others."
Pfc. Brent M. Duncan, a driver with F Troop, 2nd Sqdn., 278th ACR, said he learned to use a light-emitting diode light and PMCS his vehicle, information he would pass on.
Duncan, a McMinnville, Tenn., native, said the pre-deployment training helped Soldiers acclimate and prepare, something books or slide shows would not have provided. He said he especially appreciated the driver's training, because MRAP's are much larger than Humvees.
"It's better that we're getting to touch the vehicles now instead of getting in country and then touching them, because going from something like a Humvee to this is a big jump," he said.
Wasik said the MRAP training was valuable to him as well.
"I think the training has been invaluable down here," he said. "You get familiarized with the vehicle, the piece of equipment, or the weapon system before you go into a combat scenario and that's what this has allowed us to do."
The Soldiers absorbed the training well, said Wasik.
"I appreciate the 155th coming down here with a plan to get us up to speed on the [tactics, techniques and procedures] that are happening up north, and also giving us time to drive their vehicle," he said. "Some units aren't crazy about doing that, and we really appreciate it."
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