The Army and Coast Guard makes our Soldiers HAZMAT ready
August 25, 2012
The students sit in a slightly warm building listening to the motivated instructor discuss numerous aspects of how a transportation specialist must be aware of different signs and characteristics of hazardous materials (HAZMAT), on a hot 22nd day of August 2012. HAZMAT is one phase of the training during the first TRANSWARRIOR exercise held during late August 2012. This part of the training occurred on Forward Operating Base (FOB) 8J, at Fort Hunter Liggett, Calif.
The Deployment Support Command (DSC), Birmingham, Ala. developed TRANSWARRIOR 2012, based upon a concept presented by one of its operational units, the 1394th Transportation Brigade (TB) of Camp Pendleton, Calif. The concept was to have their Soldiers operate in a real-world type of exercise to provide comprehensive training for all DSC units in their critical deployment and distribution tasks.
The 1394th TB is key to this first iteration of TRANSWARRIOR, since they and their units are conducting the pilot run of the exercise.
In the classroom, one is aware of another noticeable DSC operational characteristic that is part of the overall real world mission -- joint operations in support of the Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC), Scott Air Force Base (AFB), Ill.
The students, wearing the digitized camouflage pattern of the United States Army, are specialists and reservists from the 1394th TB and its 1395th Deployment Distribution Support Battalion (DDSB) near Joint Base Lewis-McCord, Wash. They are learning skills about properly handling and stowing HAZMAT on or in the ships during port operations.
However, the instructors are not wearing the Army uniform, but the navy blue of the United States Coast Guard. These Reservists are from the Container Inspection Training and Assistance Team (CITAT), Oklahoma City, Okla.
CWO2 Eric Gamboa, the Mobility Officer for the 1394th TB and coordinator for TRANSWARRIOR 2012 instructors, arranged for the USCG Reserve Instructors to teach. "Historically, we had a relationship (with the Coast Guard) through SDDC, so we brought in the Coast Guard (to assist us with) HAZMAT."
The contribution of the HAZMAT trainers is invaluable. Gamboa added, "…COL Lane (Ronald, the Commander of the 1394th TB), was trying to develop specialization in a few areas. We re-established relationships with CITAT." Not only does the transportation specialist need to know how to work within his own organization, but he needs to maintain skills needed to operate in an increasingly joint environment.
The Coast Guard Reservists that are assisting the DSC, an Army Reserve command, in this portion of the mission are dedicated to ensuring the safety and the reality of different areas of port operations. "TRANSWARRIOR is a fair representation of a real world mission," said U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Andrew Cooke of Medford, NJ, CITAT instructor during the TRANSWARRIOR 2012 exercise. "We are vested in the Army and helping it to do its job."
CWO3 Bruce L. Jones, of Savannah, Ga., another CITAT instructor, and Coast Guard Reservist, said more specifically, "we give real world scenarios of real HAZMAT, and how to cope with it."
Marine Science Technician Senior Chief Petty Officer Dave Schacher of Mustang, OK, CITAT instructor, added to this assessment, "We teach use of the proper documentation in packing to get (materials) to the warfighter safely."
Referring to the HAZMAT course again, Cooke said, "We have a lot of info, and give it in a short, condensed version. Where the Coast Guard fits in, we take away some of the mystery, and make it (the HAZMAT information) more user friendly."
The value added to TRANSWARRIOR is evident. The students from the 1394th TB and the 1395th DDSB sit in the classroom and take notes while Schacher animatedly gives his presentation of the various characteristics and signs of HAZMAT during one of the classes.
Gamboa said that, in addition to HAZMAT training, TRANSWARRIOR is, "another place other than AT to get the experience." Normally when units go to an AT ran by another unit or command, the other unit has their mission to do, and the focus is not on building up the skills of their military occupational specialties (MOS); therefore the soldiers do not grow, or may not operate in their MOS. TRANSWARRIOR bridges the necessary gap to increase skills and get other necessary training. Gamboa said further, "we are teaching skills to re-emphasize skills that they (the Soldiers) haven't had since AIT (Advanced Individual Training)."
Morale is high as the Soldiers are performing in MOS' related to missions developed to test or increase their skills and confidence in deployment and distribution tasks. TRANSWARRIOR is the venue to connect Soldiers with the realities of what they may face in port operations in future wartime or real world scenarios.