• Private 1st Class Daniel Bravo, an infantryman in Headquarters Troop, Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, labels his troop's M-4 rifles on Kelley Hill, Fort Benning, Ga., June 23. Every unit in the 3rd HBCT is preparing to deploy to the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif.

    3HBCT Soldiers prepare for NTC

    Private 1st Class Daniel Bravo, an infantryman in Headquarters Troop, Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, labels his troop's M-4 rifles on Kelley Hill, Fort Benning, Ga., June 23. Every unit in the...

  • Private Rashon Thomas, an artilleryman in Battery B, 1st Battalion, 10th Field Artillery, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, lays out his equipment for inspection on Kelley Hill, Fort Benning, Ga., June 23. Thomas's leaders checked his equipment before he packed to ensure that he would have everything he would need during the 3rd HBCT's upcoming deployment to the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif.

    3HBCT Soldiers prepare for NTC

    Private Rashon Thomas, an artilleryman in Battery B, 1st Battalion, 10th Field Artillery, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, lays out his equipment for inspection on Kelley Hill, Fort Benning, Ga., June 23. Thomas's leaders checked...

  • Private Leslie Smith, an artilleryman in Battery B, 1st Battalion, 10th Field Artillery, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, tries to fit his equipment into his duffle bag on Kelley Hill, Fort Benning, Ga., June 23. Smith is one of 3,500 Soldiers assigned to the 3rd HBCT that are preparing for their upcoming deployment to the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif.

    3HBCT Soldiers prepare for NTC

    Private Leslie Smith, an artilleryman in Battery B, 1st Battalion, 10th Field Artillery, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, tries to fit his equipment into his duffle bag on Kelley Hill, Fort Benning, Ga., June 23. Smith is one of...

  • Private Leslie Smith(right) receives help from Sgt. Briand Williams, both artilleryman in Battery B, 1st Battalion, 10th Field Artillery, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, as he packs his duffle bag on Kelley Hill, Fort Benning, Ga., June 23. Most of Soldiers assigned to the 3rd HBCT are preparing for their upcoming deployment to the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif.

    3HBCT Soldiers prepare for NTC

    Private Leslie Smith(right) receives help from Sgt. Briand Williams, both artilleryman in Battery B, 1st Battalion, 10th Field Artillery, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, as he packs his duffle bag on Kelley Hill, Fort Benning...

FORT BENNING, Ga. - As they take the next step in their preparation for their scheduled deployment at the end of the year, the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, began preparations to move over 3500 Soldiers, 1,100 vehicles and 250 storage containers across the country to the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif.

The brigade, which will spend a month in California, has been planning this deployment to the National Training Center for over a year.

NTC is the cumulative training event before the brigade deploys in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"Deployment is the first mission essential task we must master in order to get Soldiers and equipment to the right place at the right time," said Col. Pete Jones, commander of the 3rd HBCT.

Leaders at all levels in the brigade have worked to ensure the trip will happen smoothly. Brigade and battalion quartermasters scheduled civilian contractors, trains and aircrafts to carry Soldiers and equipment to Fort Irwin. Company leaders and first sergeants checked to make sure all containers were properly packed and ready to move. Platoon sergeants and section leaders have been checking their Soldiers to ensure they will have all the proper equipment they will need in the Mojave Desert.

"I've heard it will be hot," said Pvt. Travis McClendon, an infantryman in Company A, 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment. "I feel we have been trained, but this will be another part of that. Whatever happens we will be ready."

Staff Sgt. James Barboa, a platoon sergeant in Troop B, 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, is just one of the leaders who went through his Soldier's packing list and ensured they would have all the items they would need.

"As leaders, we just try to make sure everyone is squared away," he said. "It's a lot easier to pick up something here than to scramble for it out there."

Another key element in the preparation for deployment is safety. This has been especially true at the railhead outside of Kelley Hill, where all of the brigade's 1,100 vehicles have been loaded onto trains.



The Soldiers of 2-69 Armor Regt., who are in charge of the loading, performed their duties clad in reflective vests, with water sources strapped to their backs and wearing eye protection.

"We haven't had one accident," said Pvt. Chad Sheard, a scout in Headquarters Company, 2-69 Armor Regt. "We are moving humvees and track vehicles on to rail cars, so we have been careful. If you have an accident, someone could get crushed."

To guarantee that the Soldiers working at the railhead were safe, leaders, like Staff Sgt. Michael Holland, a scout in HHC, 2-69 Armor Regt., placed experienced non-commissioned officers throughout the railhead to monitor the Soldiers and address any issues before they became serious.

"We have safety briefings every morning, we've gone through rehearsals, and we rotate our drivers and ground guides to ensure they aren't all out in the heat for eight hours," he said. "It is something we take seriously."

That is music to the ears of leaders like Jones.

"While training is critical to mission preparation for Iraq, safety and risk mitigation must be at the forefront of every Soldier and leader," he said. "No training event is worth the loss of a Soldier."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16