MCGREGOR RANGE, N.M. -- As the sun settles in the Southern New Mexico desert most people head inside for shelter to give way to the creatures of the night but not the Soldiers of 2nd Platoon, 377th Transportation Company, 142nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, based out of Fort Bliss, Texas.

Second Platoon, also know as "The No Slack Platoon," has convoyed more than 500 day-time miles since coming out to McGregor Base Camp according to Sgt. 1st Class Tracy L. Kinnischtzke, the platoon sergeant for 2nd Platoon, and now its time for them to step it up and add the additional dangers that are involved with night-time operations.

Daytime driving is safer due to increased visibility which allows the driver to see approaching dangers. There is also a wider field of view, giving the driver more to look at, keeping the mind occupied and lessening the risk of drowsiness.

On the other hand, night driving takes away the field of vision and can often cause a driver to not see upcoming dangers or lose focus from staring at white and yellow lines on the road.

Convoys in combat happen both day and night. The Soldiers of 2nd Platoon know this and train accordingly.

Spc. Marvin H. Rivas, a heavy wheeled vehicle operator, who operates a Heavy Equipment Transport System in 2nd Platoon said, "[convoys] might be day, might be night, you just have to be ready for it."

The night's mission for "The No Slack Platoon" was to train for just that kind of scenario. The mission is to drive more than 320 miles in an 11-hour period through the night. All the while focusing on the development of combat related skills needed for the upcoming deployment.

Kinnischtzke a native of Bismarck, N.D. said, "we want them to get the distance at night," when speaking of the mission's main focus.

However, this isn't the only task planned for the training.

The Soldiers are driving in full combat uniform to train their bodies for how they will have to drive in the combat zone.

"We want to get these guys conditioned to the long hours of driving with all their gear on," said Kinnischtzke.

Also, if any vehicle breaks down the platoon uses the opportunity to recover the vehicle at combat speed. They use pre-rehearsed drills with specific steps designed to get the convoy moving again as soon as possible. The longer a convoy is halted in a combat zone, the more danger it is in -- 2nd Platoon trains to get their convoys moving again as fast as possible.

Lastly, the focus will be on "teaching old dogs new tricks."

The platoon is full of "old dogs" with not just experience behind the wheel but, more importantly, combat experience behind the wheel. However, not all this experience is with driving a HETS, which is the main vehicle of the 2nd Platoon fleet.

Rivas who is a native of Houston is one of these "old dogs" and he has been in the Army for almost six years. He has completed two combat tours in Iraq as a heavy wheeled vehicle operator, but none of that time was spent driving a HETS.

"This is the first time in my career to be driving this vehicle," said Rivas.

HETS are the largest wheeled transport system in the Army; so while Rivas has experience, he, like others in his platoon, needs this time to get comfortable behind the wheel.

The training is designed to be as close as possible to what they will experience in the upcoming deployment.

"The only difference is the up-armored cab," said Kinischtzke.

In the Army you often hear leaders say, "you train as you fight and you fight as you train."

The Soldiers of "The No Slack Platoon," take this to heart by pushing themselves through the night to mirror their training to the conditions of the combat zone.

"What we do on the road now, we will do downrange, said Kinnischtzke.

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