News: Lifeliners embark on Mungadai
Story by Spc. Michael Vanpool
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – The heat was intense this week, storms crept in, and many events followed into darkness. Every turn and last minute change added to the intent at realism of combat operations.
Leaders of the 101st Sustainment Brigade underwent hours in the elements and simultaneous training during the weeklong exercise known as Mungadai.
The training involved the logistics element that is core to the brigade, and it also focused on the tasks of the subordinate engineer, air defense artillery and military police units.
Mungadai tested the company grade officers and non-commissioned officers in combat realistic training under tight time constraints, all while leading their peers through event.
It is these junior leaders that may eventually lead soldiers while deployed. The 101st Sustainment Brigade does not deploy as an entire element, the companies and battalion headquarters deploy separately.
“It’s an opportunity to redirect of soldier-level and leader-level tasks that maybe they’ve strayed away from the past couple years,” said 1st Lt. Spencer Johnson, a platoon leader with the 372nd Inland Cargo Transfer Company, 129th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 101st Sustainment Brigade. “They can leave with the knowledge that they gained back to their formations.”
Many times they will fall under larger units, but sometimes, they may be the experts in their skills and missions. These junior officers and NCOs will need to know how to adapt in any situation, whether it’s a logistics mission, mentorship or any other mission.
“I’m gaining more knowledge outside what I’ve known for the past several years,” said Sgt. 1st Class Philip Schafer, a platoon sergeant with the 20th Quartermaster Company, 129th CSSB. “It’s interesting getting to know what other units do.”
Even though the moon was bright, the clouds blocked any chance of light for most the exercises. The event carried through the night because the 101st likes to invade at night, said Col. Michael Peterman, the brigade commander.
“It’s been hot; they’ve got the body armor,” Peterman said. “Each of them has dug a foxhole, each of them put wire in, each of them cleared buildings. Now we’re sling loading.”
The training culminated Thursday with Air Assault operations. The leaders air assaulted late into the night after sling loading most of the day and early evening. Each of the battalions brought some of their everyday equipment, so that it could be rigged during the event.
“We worked on rigging several loads familiar from the Air Assault School, but also some unique loads to the Sustainment Brigade, with the Avenger weapon system and the Bobcat,” Johnson said.
This is the first time in two years that the brigade has trained on sling loading at this level. More than six different pieces of equipment, including up-armored trucks and 500 pound water blivets, were attached to the helicopters from 159th Combat Aviation Brigade.
Some of the leaders had never done sling load operations before.
“When it’s your first time under that helicopter, it can be a little unnerving. We want to get them used to that,” Peterman said.
The sling loading gives the junior officers another set of tools to supply their soldiers and move their equipment. They could move by convoy, air drop or sling load, depending on the situation and terrain they’re moving into.
“It provides a lot of flexibility and knowledge that the 101st is called upon specifically, being the only Air Assault Division in the world,” Johnson said. “We have a responsibility to be knowledgeable on sling load operations. Some of it has been a lost art, especially in garrison, so we’re trying to redirect our leaders that way.”