Training mission: Fort Polk Soldiers convoy to Pine Bluff Arsenal
February 11, 2010
During the last week of January, Soldiers from the 7th Chemical Company, 83rd Chemical Battalion, stationed at Fort Polk, La, convoyed to Pine Bluff Arsenal, and began a certification training mission using the M31E1 Biological Integrated Detection System, or BIDS. The Soldiers are required to be certified on the BIDS every six months.
"Part of our mission was to convoy here to Pine Bluff, and have control of the movement of the convoy up here. We have support from other units including the 88th Brigade Support Battalion (also stationed at Fort Polk) that are supporting us with a Mobile Kitchen Trailer (MKT) and other assets," said Capt. Rogelio Pineda, commander of the 7th Chemical Company.
Pineda said that the convoy from Louisiana to Arkansas went well, although they did have one vehicle go down. "When the vehicle went down, we did receive some assistance from a Baptist church in Monticello, Ark. They were very helpful and it was greatly appreciated," he said.
Overall the convoy itself was a total success. "Everyone is here," said the commander. "We have all our assets - 45 vehicles - which is about average for a typical convoy in my experience. We moved in three separate groupings to avoid congestion on the roads."
The Soldiers were housed on the southern end of the Arsenal in the former Directorate of Logistics/Directorate of Material Management building. The command was established in the building, with MKT and other support assets located across the street in a grassy area and parking lot.
"We have been so well received by everyone here at Pine Bluff," said Pineda. "The building is perfect for us and everything has worked out great. The Internet connections worked, and we have been comfortable and warm. We are just very appreciative and grateful to everyone on the installation. We could not have asked for anything better."
Part of the training mission was to validate the route from Fort Polk, La., to Pine Bluff Arsenal, Ark., set up command and operations, and get the crews established and sent out to set up the BIDS units. "The biggest thing we do is biological surveillance, so each of the crews had a different objective," said Pineda. "Once the crews were set up, each individual crew was evaluated and certified. The certifications were done according to a detailed checklist to make sure they met the standards that are taught at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., (home of Chemical Corp), and what is in our tactical standard operating procedures. Mission was accomplished."
The BIDS consist of biological detection, identification and sampling equipment integrated into a lightweight multipurpose shelter, mounted onto a high-mobility multi-purpose wheeled vehicle. The operational mission of the unit is to detect and identify biological agent aerosols, send and receive voice transmissions, and be able to be transported throughout the battlefield.
Also during their training mission, the Soldiers were able to provide a demonstration of the BIDS units to visiting U.S. Army Joint Munitions Commander Brig. Gen. Larry Wyche from Rock Island Arsenal, Ill. Wyche was visiting the Arsenal during a Department of the Army Inspector General and surety inspection.
"We were able to give him a briefing and a display by one of the BIDS crews. As far as I saw, that went very well," said Pineda. "It was good for the Soldiers. The Soldiers who gave the one-on-one briefing were Staff Sgt. Tony Ripas, one of the squad leaders, and Spc. Thang Dang. I have several Soldiers who are very good but what we based it on was which one was in a better position for the brief, and which one had the knowledge."
Pineda said one of the best things was being able to come to a place where the Soldiers were unfamiliar with the surroundings. "The Soldiers got some good training because we gave them a briefing and a route to take to get up here to complete a mission," he said. "We know now that we can do it again and give them a different route. Most of them already have the Fort Polk area memorized. So it is always good to do trainings in different unfamiliar areas."