FORT HOOD, Texas -- With each passing week, trains, planes and automobiles are moving the 1st ?"Ironhorse" Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division across the country one piece at a time.
Recently, 1st BCT Soldiers kicked off the big move for the upcoming rotation to the National Training Center by preparing shipping containers for rail transport.
During the week of Jan. 29, 1st BCT continued the moving process with line haul operations, a process to move equipment by truck. More than 60 vehicles and more than 40 shipping containers were loaded onto 18-wheelers for the major training exercise lasting about one month at Fort Irwin, Calif.
?"Each unit has pieces of equipment that require different types of transportation," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Daniel McMillen, a mobility officer assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company ?"Hammer" of the Ironhorse Brigade. ?"(Line hauling) just makes it more flexible for us, and it gives us another option … and (it) also meets the time requirements for those items we need there quick to get the mission done."
A train may take two weeks to get to NTC, but line-hauled equipment can arrive between 24 hours and five days, said McMillen, a native of Joplin, Mo.
Although trucks are the speedy way to get gear where it needs to go, weather, traffic conditions, and maintenance issues can get in the way.
McMillen said the biggest challenge during line haul operations is coordinating to ensure everyone is in the right place.
Soldiers of the 91st ?"Saber" Brigade Engineer Battalion of the Ironhorse Brigade spearheaded the operation while each unit provided Soldiers to drive vehicles into place. The 91st BEB processes reports, corrects discrepancies, and tracks equipment as it arrives, ensuring it gets loaded and leaves the line haul site, McMillen said.
Before vehicles can ship, they have labels affixed, be stripped of gear and antennae, and contain no more than a quarter tank of fuel.
Once civilian drivers arrive and verify paperwork for each truck, Soldiers drive military vehicles up concrete ramps onto the shipping trucks.
After the military vehicles are loaded onto the 18-wheelers, the civilian drivers determine the final placement based on the weight of the load, said Staff Sgt. Nolan Estell, a Hammer motor transport operator.
Soldiers then set the parking brakes, fold in the mirrors, and make sure everything on the vehicles is secure and ready for travel, said Estell, a Big Fork, Mont., native.
Because the trucks are civilian contracted, the truckers tie down the vehicles with chains, McMillen said.
In the ongoing process to get the brigade across country, McMillen said the next step will take place at NTC - receiving equipment.