NEAR PANMUNJEOM, South Korea - Grey clouds fill the sky and rain drops sparingly fall. The temperature is brisk, but the Soldiers show no signs of being affected by the weather. They have training to do, so they mount up on trucks to execute training at "Warrior Base" near the southern edge of the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea.
This mission, says 1st Lt. Al Lansana, is to conduct live-fire drills while moving in a vehicle. The convoy live fire exercise, or CLFX, provides Soldiers a chance to practice a task which is critical to conducting military operations anywhere. This is especially important for the Soldiers of 194th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 501st Sustainment Brigade conducting the training because they are responsible for ensuring their fellow Soldiers get the supplies they need during war.
"Convoys are what we do," explains Lansana, the officer in charge of the Mar. 25-31 CLFX. "We do convoys for everything. We move everything; we provide logistics for those who fight."
To ensure Soldiers are inculcating the lessons shared by their mentors, phased training using a "crawl, walk, run" methodology is used. Soldiers first go through the training as a "dry run," in which no ammunition is fired, but the commands are issued and simulated challenges are presented for the Soldiers to solve. Subsequent training includes blank rounds, followed by live rounds.
Doing this builds Soldiers' confidence and ability to perform as the training progresses, explains Master Sgt. Joseph Petty, the NCO in charge of monitoring safety of the training.
"Everything we do is dangerous," says Petty of the training. "They (the Soldiers) will get live ammo if they go to combat. We trust them. We have to trust them. What the Soldiers are learning here is something they can put in their tool box for later."
For the approximately 350 Soldiers participating in the training, the leaders appear to be learning the most from the training.
"The leaders are actively involved," Petty explains. "They are coming with their own ideas for the training, their reaction times are getting faster and better."
The area both Petty and Lansana say leaders have improved the most in during the CLFX is their ability to communicate. This includes calling up to the tactical operations center with updates to controlling situations and Soldiers when scenarios are happening.
With good results from improved communication, Lansana says leaders are learning to trust their Soldiers' abilities more, thus enabling them to give their Soldiers more tasks.
Spc. Nelson Roble, a member of the 520th Maintenance Company conducting the training, says he can see the difference the training is having on fellow members of his unit.
"This is a team building," says the Lancaster, Pa. native of the exercise. "Leaders are learning about themselves, and so are the Soldiers. Together, we are making it happen."
This CLFX is Roble's third since he was stationed in South Korea 18 months ago.
The Soldiers of the 194th CSSB have been conducting exercises across the Korean peninsula since late-February, including Exercises Key Resolve, Foal Eagle, and most recently, Combined Joint Logistics Over the Shore, or C/JLOTS.
Even with the long hours the Soldiers have been putting in, "morale is high" because the leaders and Soldiers conducting the training understand the importance of the drills, says Lansana.
In addition to conducting the CFLX, the 194th CSSB "Provider" Soldiers executed other battle-focused training with live hand grenades and other small arms, like the M-249 Squad Automatic Weapon.

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