Sgt. 1st Class Michael Sneed, C Company, 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, guides a M1A2 Abrams tank aboard a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft June 3 at Lawson Army Airfield. Sneed is part of an element from the unit participating in a large-scale training exercise designed to prepare units for rapid deployment.

FORT BENNING, Ga. (June 6, 2012) -- Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, loaded track vehicles and equipment aboard C-17 Globemaster III aircraft Sunday at Lawson Army Airfield as they prepared to participate in a joint training exercise at Fort Bragg, N.C.

The exercise is designed to prepare units for a rapid deployment in defense of U.S interests across the globe.

Planning for the exercise started last year, said Lt. Col. John Pirog, commander, 2-69 Armor, and a native of Saratoga Springs, N.Y. The Air Force, Army and Marines will participate in a simulated attack on a contested air field.

"Once we seize the lodgment," Pirog said, "the battalion will go in afterward to expand that lodgment and then push out a counterattack force."

Before the simulated attack can begin, Soldiers and Air Force personnel had to work together loading the vehicles into aircraft at Lawson, sometimes having only an 8-inch margin of error.

"For the past 10 years, we've done most of it by sea and by ground, going into Iraq and Afghanistan," Pirog said. "Now we'll actually be able to move out tanks and Bradleys by air. It hasn't been done in probably the better part of a decade, so we're rebooting all those old skills."

Each Abrams tank weighs nearly 70 tons, and Bradley Fighting Vehicles tip the scales around 30 tons each, so careful loading onto the aircraft is paramount, said Capt. Sean Huss, a pilot with the 14th Airlift Squadron, 437th Airlift Wing, Charleston Air Force Base, S.C.

"It's like any moving vehicle," Huss said. "There's a lot of momentum involved. The more weight you put on, the heavier that jet is, the tougher it is to slow down; it's like stopping a baseball, versus stopping a car."

For Soldiers gearing up to train at Bragg, getting there is only half the battle.

"This is a great opportunity to train in a realistic, joint environment," Pirog said. "It is an honor to be selected to participate."

Page last updated Wed June 6th, 2012 at 10:01