Getting Mission ready
Spc. Michael Houck, a gunner with the 109th Transportation Company, checks the weapon on his turret during a pre-combat inspection of his vehicle. Houck's company is part of the 17th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 101st Sustainment Brigade, and has logged more than 600,000 miles in Afghanistan.

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, February 19, 2011 -- Driving the roads here in Afghanistan is quite a different experience from Iraq, according to Sgt. 1st Class Kelvin Windham and Staff Sgt. Davis Miranda of the 109th Transportation Company.

"There are a lot of unimproved roads here, and the elevation is different. You're literally going up the side of a mountain with a lot of the routes we traverse... no guardrails or anything, so these drivers have to be very proficient in their skills. Any mistake out here is not forgivable," Windham said.

Yet their drivers constantly brave the dangerous and unforgiving terrain to ensure that Soldiers located in remote combat outpost in Regional Command East and Regional Command North get the supplies they need to conduct their missions.

Since first arriving in Afghanistan in July 2010, the drivers with the 109th Trans. Co. so far have logged approximately more than 600,000 miles - more than any other truck company in the 17th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 101st Sustainment Brigade.

Windham, the truck master for the company, said the Soldiers must go through six separate battle spaces to provide escort support and deliver much needed supplies to the various COPs in RC-East and RC-North.

The mission is anything but easy, he said. Along with terrain, Afghanistan weather conditions also figure prominently in transporting goods and services.

"Sometimes it can take us 18 hours or longer just to travel 100 miles," Windhman said. "To put in perspective, back in the states, 100 miles would take a little over one hour."

Miranda, a squad leader with the 109th Trans. Co., said driving the terrain in Afghanistan is like taking a step back in times.

"The roads are like from the Biblical times," he said.

"We're struggling, trying to drive up these steep hills and the people who live on them herding their animals and walking up them like it's nothing," Windham said.

Despite the challenges, the company continued to rise to the occasion to ensure the Soldiers got what they needed. Miranda said the company continually trains on their equipment to ensure they can meet their mission's goals.

"When we come back from a mission, it's critical that we re-set and rehearse our battle drills and train on our equipment," he said. "There have been some instances where we have been battle-tested out here, and the battle drills helped to minimize damage to our equipment and Soldiers. It's definitely paid off."

Miranda gave credit to his Soldiers for their success. "The caliber of Soldiers we have in this battalion is a blessing," he said.

Windham said one of the things he's learned from his experiences as a truck master and doing the convoys is the reaction of the Afghan people to the Soldiers.

"I've learned that many of them don't hate us," he said. "We get to travel through a lot of battles spaces, and many of the villagers are giving us the 'thumbs-up.'"

"Everyone here is not the enemy. I think it's good that we get to see that," he said.

The 17th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion is part of the 3rd Maneuvers Enhancement Brigade, based out of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. They are assigned to the 101st Sustainment Brigade during their deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Page last updated Sat February 19th, 2011 at 11:08