Maintenance Soldiers Train on Convoy Procedures
March 3, 2008
FORT HOOD, Texas - The insurgents sit patiently, hiding in ditches along the side of the road, waiting for the right moment.
A convoy from the 602nd Maintenance Company, 49th Transportation Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) is stopped on the road, waiting for explosive ordnance disposal to clear an obstacle.
Once EOD clears the road, the convoy moves forward - and the insurgents strike.
Two improvised explosive devices go off, disabling two vehicles. The insurgents run out of hiding and attack the remaining vehicles with small arms fire.
The Soldiers in the convoy go to work, defending their vehicles and calling in a medical evacuation helicopter for their casualties.
Only a few minutes after the attack begins, it is all over. The convoy returns to the base to discuss what happened and how they could have done things better.
No, these Soldiers aren't in Iraq or Afghanistan, they are on one of the convoy training ranges on Fort Hood, training on what they could experience while deployed.
The training, which lasted for several days, included day and night convoy live fire lanes, improvised explosive device training and escalation of force procedures for civilians on the battlefield.
Spc. Isaac Cadena, with the 602nd Maintenance Company, said he enjoyed the training, especially the part where the insurgents ambushed the convoys.
"They came at us hard," Cadena said. "OPFOR was on point."
He explained that when the insurgents attacked his convoy, everything happened at once, that is was like a worst-case scenario.
Sgt. Carlos Flores, who lead the opposing forces' band of insurgents, who are just a group of Soldiers from the 180th Transportation Battalion's 96th Transportation Company, says that the OPFOR normally gets a bad reputation for making it too tough on the Soldiers going through the training.
"We just want to show them what they might encounter," Flores said.
He explained that since the training lasts several days, they get several opportunities for each group of Soldiers to come through their portion of the training, and they make each time more difficult than before.
"We use three phases - crawl, walk and run," he said.
During the crawl phase, the OPFOR Soldiers would be present on the side of the road, making the convoy aware that there were people besides Soldiers on the roads. During the walk and run stages, the Soldiers would attack the convoy using various methods, such as small arms fire or complex attacks, which involves small arms fire in addition to rocket propelled grenades and IEDs.
Flores has been deployed once before with the 13th SC(E), during 2004-2005, and having been through an IED and small arms fire attacks, he wanted to make things as real as possible for those who haven't yet deployed.
"Today's focus is going to be how they are going to react," Flores said. "It's going to be a complex attack with two IEDs, possible suicide bomber, possible [prisoner of war].
"We're going to find out what their reaction time is on calling up a report that they have a missing Soldier and sensitive items," he explained.
Flores said that while the OPFOR is trying to do everything they can to destroy the convoy, they want to see the Soldiers succeed in doing what they need to in order to survive and continue on with their original mission.
"They need to use it as a tool," Flores said.