News: Preparing our soldiers for the Road
By Staff Sgt. Constance A. Oberg
3rd Sustainment Brigade
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, Iraq— Preparing to send soldiers out on a convoy requires more than jumping into the driver’s seat of the truck and taking off down the road. There is preparation involved before the trucks even leave the staging area.
Prior to the convoy moving out, a commanders risk-assessment meeting is held for key personnel from the units in order to provide them with the latest intelligence, weather and route clearance schedules. That information is then passed on to the soldiers.
Capt. Kevin Morgan, battalion electronic warfare officer with the 394th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, 103rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), and Muscatine, Iowa, native, also goes out to each convoy staging area two hours prior to leaving. He ensures the Counter Remote Control Improvised Explosive Device Electronic Warfare, systems are functioning.
“I make sure the company CREW specialists are doing their jobs,” said Morgan. “I check all the trucks and make sure all their Counter IED equipment is functioning properly. The companies have CREW specialists that conduct preliminary checks on their trucks to make sure everything is right.”
The battalion also sends a CREW specialist to support the company specialist if they need assistance.
“The CREW systems are basically like the armor plating on the trucks,” said Pfc. Bradley D. Eisenhauer, a signal support system specialist with the 394th CSSB, and a Bloomfield, Neb., native. “The difference is you can’t actually see that armor and what it’s protecting you from.”
Spot-checking is important for ensuring proper CREW system maintenance in each truck.
“Our mission is to spot-check trucks, which is the same as what the CREW specialist does,” added Sgt. Joel S. Lowther, an information systems operator analyst with the 394th CSSB, and a Wahoo, Neb., native. “We go out to the staging yard and pick different trucks that the CREW specialist from the company has checked. By randomly spot checking and quizzing the CREW specialist, we can make sure that they know what they are doing.”
Making sure the vehicles are prepared to roll out is only one part of getting the convoy ready. Every mission has a convoy brief where all the soldiers get on the same page with each other. Meals are also provided so no one heads out on the road hungry.
The unit chaplain also goes out to the staging area.
“After the convoy brief while the soldiers are assembled, I am able to give a short word from the Bible and a prayer before they leave on their mission,” said 1st Lt. Joshua A. Cox, a chaplain with the 394th CSSB, and a Leon, Iowa, native. “I am there to talk with the soldiers also. I am down at the staging lanes to provide a ministry of presence to any soldier or civilian who may want to talk to a chaplain.”
Soldiers are not required to be there for the chaplain’s brief, but most do stay and listen. Cox said he feels that the Army has many fine men and women serving who desire to be nurtured spiritually and their mission does not always allow them to be at the chapel on Sunday. He added that he provides them “a piece of spiritual pie” at the convoy briefs.
As a U.S. Army chaplain, Cox said he feels it is a great joy and privilege to be able to serve the outstanding service members who put their lives on the line every day for the completion of the mission.
“There is no other place I would rather be serving in the ministry than right here, being able to serve full time both my country and my God,” said Cox.
It takes a lot of work to prepare for a mission, even with the long hours involved in getting the convoy ready to head out on the road. Many of the soldiers say they love what they do and are excited to have the opportunity to go on the missions.