FTX caps off month-long training
May 8, 2014
Story by Capt. Brent Heller, Forward Support Company commander
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - Moving personnel and equipment across the battlefield is a ground unit's most important tasks in combat. This is especially true of sustainment Soldiers, for whom this isn't an occasional mission, but a daily responsibility. It is because of this importance that the Forward Support Company, 84th Engineer Battalion held a field training exercise (FTX) April 28 - May 1 at Kahuku Training Area, Hawaii.
The FTX was the culminating event after two weeks of platoon-level training for the maintenance and distribution platoons.
Prior to the FTX, the platoons went to Dillingham Airfield Training Area to brush up on warrior tasks and battle drills (WTBD), general convoy operations, and troop leading procedures. Additionally, each platoon spent time training on their specific mission essential tasks (MET). For example, the maintenance platoon trained on using the 10-ton wrecker to perform recovery operations.
Taking a break from garrison operations to focus on training was a great benefit, said 1st Lt. Junior Matthews, Distribution Platoon leader.
"It was very nice to get away from our everyday support missions and train on Distribution Platoon's most important METL task: to conduct and defend a tactical convoy," he said. "That's the very thing that will keep us alive in a combat situation."
The culminating event consisted of squad lanes that required Soldiers to perform in a number of different scenarios based on an operations order designed to simulate the Korean Theater of Operations. Squad leaders were required to develop a plan, brief their teams, conduct rehearsals and inspections, and execute according to a common standard.
The lane was situated on a rough, mountainous road that tested not only the drivers' ability to negotiate difficult terrain, but also provided the opposing force role players ample opportunities to stage ambushes.
The realism of the environment was a big part of the FTX's success, said Staff Sgt. Tristan Caballes, the Forward Support Company's operations sergeant.
"This is one of the most realistic training exercises I have seen," he said. "It really benefits the Soldiers, because they have an idea of what a tactical convoy might look like in combat."
The training generated a great deal of positive feedback from Soldiers and junior leaders who enjoyed the opportunity to engage in uninterrupted training on their technical and tactical skills.
"It was a great experience and very motivational for the Soldiers who did this type of training for the first time," said Spc. Shamari Glover, a wheeled vehicle mechanic. "We learned and practiced a lot of real-world skills that will potentially save lives."