FORT IRWIN, Calif. -- Imagine you're in the blazing hot desert sun, in a dusty convoy transporting enormous Army tanks, and you're under constant threat of enemy attack.

Now imagine someone is watching closely over you, checking to see if you make the decisions that will keep your Soldiers alive and get the convoy to its destination.

That was the scene at the National Training Center here recently, where Soldiers with the California Army National Guard's 1498th Transportation Company (Heavy Equipment Transporter) conducted their two-week annual training.

Watching closely over them were observer-coach/trainers from 1st Regiment, 363rd Combat Support/Combat Service Support Battalion, 189th Infantry Brigade, Division West.

The 1498th's mission is to move large items from one location to another with their heavy equipment transporters. Working with the 189th O-C/Ts was a first-time experience for some of the troops from the 1498th's 3rd platoon, the Road Warriors.

"At first it seemed to be a little intimidating having an O-C/T, but, at the end of the day, it was beneficial to have him around," said Sgt. Nataly Jerez, a 3rd platoon team leader from Los Angeles, Calif., who rose to platoon sergeant in a matter of minutes once training began. "I feel as though I have gained a lot of knowledge from him, and I was able to look for guidance when needed."

Staff Sgt. Jason Farjardo, a 3rd platoon squad leader, also from Los Angeles, took on the role of platoon leader the second he walked into the company's tactical command tent and met his O-C/T.

"I have to say I was not prepared for it," Fajardo said. "I knew about the [troop leading procedures], but never had to implement them."

"I was not sure how it was going to go at first," Farjardo continued. "My foolish pride would not let me ask the other platoon sergeants [for help]…In the end, I drew my strength from my platoon. They were the reason I was there and together we would accomplish our mission."

Sgt. Hugo Lopez, from Baja, Calif., 3rd platoon Bravo Team leader, was also placed in a higher position of responsibility and said he felt as though he gained a lot from the experience.

"I learned a lot from this year's AT," Lopez said. "The biggest thing that I learned was how to be an assistant convoy commander. It was challenging, but, with the help of my chain of command, I managed to complete the mission. I also learned how to be the assistant platoon sergeant."

Working with an O-C/T was challenging but beneficial, Lopez added. "One of the benefits was that the O-C/T managed to give us feedback so our platoon can improve."

His O-C/T asked a lot of questions, Farjardo said.

"The questions or tasks that were asked or recommended by the O-C/T were things that we could improve on," he said.

In the end, the biggest lesson Fajardo learned was about sharing the load of leadership. "I figured out that I did not have to have all the answers, or accomplish all the tasks by myself."

Page last updated Tue August 12th, 2014 at 11:10