By Sgt. Leejay Lockhart (101st Airborne)March 7, 2014
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. -- Soldiers from the 101st Sustainment Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), carried out a readiness validation exercise Feb. 26, 2014 at Fort Campbell, Ky. The exercise validated the unit's ability to rapidly deploy anywhere in the world.
The exercise involved approximately half of the companies of the 129th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion and one company from the 101st Special Troops Battalion. It began with a notification to the participating units that went out at 2 a.m. The units sprung into action and a few short hours later the assessments began.
"Today we participated in a Ready Eagle exercise," said 1st Lt. Veedera L. Wilson, Operations Officer from the 129th CSSB. "In that event we were tasked by division to validate and show our maintenance procedures, administer an APFT, unit movement techniques, SRP, motorcycle safety, SHARP with our three PTDO units, which are prepared to deploy."
Sergeant 1st Class James Burton, the detachment first sergeant for the 632nd Movement Control Team, added that the operation is a tactical exercise for units to assess their ability to be anywhere in the world in 18 hours or less after receiving the alert.
Wilson, a native of Meridian, Miss., said that the battalion assessed the situation and sent out an order to the subordinate units giving them the mission. From there the Soldiers formed up and the units conducted their set of checks before the personnel from division began the official validation.
"This was a surprise alert this morning and fortunately we were prepared for it," said Wilson.
Soldiers from the 129th CSSB had already been preparing for deployment, so the exercise gave them a chance to put their training to use.
One important area the exercise checked was Soldier Readiness Packets. The SRP process addresses anything that could cause complications for deployed Soldiers and takes care of it before the deployment. This keeps Soldiers focused on the mission at hand when they do deploy.
The files prove Soldiers are medically fit to spend up to a year deployed by showing they have all their immunizations up to date, along with dental, vision and hearing checks before they deploy. These folders also contain important paperwork relating to Soldiers' Army insurance and emergency contact information.
The battalion brought out the files for inspectors to check and monitored the whole process.
Equipment maintenance was another important area validated during the exercise. Wilson said that the foundation of the battalion's preparations started with the thorough weekly inspection of the equipment the battalion conducts. These preventive maintenance checks and services identify any problems with the unit's equipment. Once the Soldiers identify a problem, they either fix the issue immediately or if that's not possible, they note the deficiency so mechanics can schedule a repair.
All of the validations were happening concurrently, so personnel along with equipment and records involved in the exercise reported to different stations, which ranged from the battalion headquarters to the alert holding area near Campbell Army Airfield for vehicles. At the AHA, units lined up their vehicles and operators set up the vehicle's basic issue items for inspection. The operators presented their military licenses and answered questions about the use of the BII.
After those checks, Soldiers lined up their vehicles for the weigh station where Soldiers from the battalion's 632nd MCT Team performed a vital role.
"The MCT's role was basically checking on what the unit has already done, verifying weights, measures, center of balance on all of their equipment, checking all their paperwork making sure it was ready to go on the bird," said Sgt. Joseph Anthony, a movements control NCO for the 632nd MCT.
"The MCT is important because ... we're the ones moving the personnel and the equipment in and out of theater whether coming from here or some other place like in Europe. If your weights are off by too much it can cause a bird to crash."
In order to prepare for the checks, Anthony, a native of Richmond, Va., said his Soldiers formed up soon after receiving the alert and began to drill on the different mathematical equations they use to determine equipment weight and center of balance.
Along with checking weights, the Soldiers from the MCT also checked to make sure the equipment was clean and free of any debris. Anthony said that preventing environmental contamination was a one of the Army's priorities.
"The Army is all about taking care of the environment," said Anthony. "When we leave a country, we want to leave it in better condition."
He said the Soldiers participating in the validation did a good job with their paperwork making the MCT's job easier that day and speeding along the process. Anthony said his team did outstanding as well, and he was confident that if it had of been a real deployment, that in a matter of hours after the weigh station, the units could have loaded their equipment and vehicles onto aircraft for a rapid deployment.
The battalion kept a check on all of the inspections and made sure everything kept on schedule. Wilson said that representatives from each section of the battalion staff aided the exercise along with subject matter experts at each station.
At the end of the exercise, the inspectors conducted an after action review.
"We got an overall go," said Burton, a native of Columbia, Ky. "The MCT's were an integral part of the battalion's overall success and due to our knowledge and expertise the battalion was able to achieve superior results."