News: Sustainment battalion brings the pieces together
By Pfc. Chalon E. Hutson
FORT IRWIN, Calif. – Walking through infinite sand and dirt in order to reach an open tent filled with cots looking for sleep would make a soldier feel like they are in Iraq or Afghanistan. However, at the National Training Center, soldiers have the opportunity to live the way they would overseas, whether they are Active Duty, Reserve or National Guard.
The 319th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion and the 369th Special Troop Battalion conducted their annual training at NTC here between July 8 and Aug. 28 to train soldiers and provide support for an Active Duty brigade.
“Our mission is to provide overall logistical support to the 3rd Brigade., 1st Infantry Division,” said Sgt. 1st Class Darrell Flowers, a San Antonio resident, and chief movement non-commissioned officer, 319th CSSB. “I have had to draw different levels of experience to accomplish the mission.”
More than 500 soldiers participated in this year’s NTC training exercise for rotation 09-10 with 319th CSSB, so there was a lot of planning involved to prepare for the training.
“It took a lot of coordination,” said Sgt. 1st Class David Rolins, a Conway, Ark., native, and the personnel noncommissioned officer-in-charge, 319th CSSB.
Approximately 100 pieces of major equipment were transported to NTC for units to participate in the exercise. This equipment included trailers, trucks, water buffalos, power generators, military vans and more.
Many different types of units are involved in this NTC rotation. Military police companies trained on convoy security, maintenance units practiced field maintenance and recovery. Tactical convoys were practiced by transportation units, while a signal detachment learned how to work with different systems, and the battalion staff worked with other staff members as one unit.
Rolins said NTC provides really good experience for all soldiers involved.
“What they are doing here is what they would do overseas,” Rolins said. “It’s pretty realistic.”
“It’s making soldiers more prepared for when they hit ground in the theatre of operations,” Flowers said.
Driver’s, roll-over and convoy security training help soldiers relate to what they will come across overseas, said Sgt. James M. Cantrell, a resident of Belton, Mo., a squad leader for the 603rd Military Police Company and Combat Support out of Harrisonville, Mo.
Cantrell said he enjoyed the training and was proud of the work done by his soldiers. “They’re doing an outstanding job.”
He was looking forward to the rest of NTC. As a soldier who has experienced what it is like overseas, he said the NTC training is practical.
“Hopefully the soldiers gain enough knowledge from this to go home and implement it at the unit,” Cantrell said.
“A lot of people become fearful before being deployed,” said Pvt. 1st Class Linda Morazan, a medic with the 369th Headquarters and Headquarters Company, based out of New York City. “This trains you to know what to expect.”
Morazan hopes to be well prepared for deployment through this training. She explained how this training gives her unit the opportunity to connect in a way that, as a reserve unit, wouldn’t be possible without training like NTC. “It brings together the unit as a whole,” she said.
Morazan participated in many types of training such as field medical training, preventive medicine training, and training to identify heat casualties since she arrived on July 1.
Morazan mentioned qualities that make a good medic. “It takes intelligence, a calm perspective and poise,” she said. “But most of all you need to be motivated.”
The effort to get everything prepared for NTC was a long task. The 319th CSSB worked alongside a National Guard battalion, the 369th Special Troops Battalion.
Though the planning process took a lot of work, Flowers said the process of getting things in place was surprisingly smooth.
“We have combined two battalion headquarter into one staff almost seamlessly,” said Flowers. “I liked the opportunity of working together with Guard and Active duty units, to see what they bring to the table.”
It’s good to work with people you don’t know, said Sgt. Jason B. Racine, operations NCO, 369th HHC.
Racine described the merging of the two battalions as flawless. “We’ve never met before but everyone knew where they were supposed to be.”
“I say combining (these units) enhances the training,” Racine said, noting that’s how units operate overseas, by joining forces.
“I think the integration has been excellent,” said Maj. Daniel E. Harris, commander, 369 STB, and executive officer of the NTC rotation, proud of the work soldiers have done at NTC. “That is a direct result of the professionalism.”
All the planning ahead of time helped the combining process flow so well, Harris said. “Any opportunity to combine brings different strengths to the table. When you do that you can’t go wrong.”
“I’m glad we’re out here,” he said. “I’m glad for the group unity, and I’m glad to work with the Reserve unit.”
Harris mentioned the two battalions fit together so well it is difficult to tell the difference between the National Guard and Reserve in almost all settings. Soldiers from the two battalions eat together, sleep in the same tents, talk amongst each other, and most importantly work together, he said. “The quality of the product is that good.”
“To be able to come here in this environment is a tremendous opportunity,” Harris said.