By Mr. Gustavo Bahena (Irwin)May 7, 2014
FORT IRWIN, Calif. -- The wind and dust are relentless, as truck convoys filled with food are delivered to a brigade of Soldiers scattered across 1,200 square miles of Mojave Desert.
Those convoys belong to the 138th Quartermaster Company from Brazil, Ind., and they traveled along rough, dirt roads known as main supply routes at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif., April 25. The National Guard unit (under the 519th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion at Terre Haute, Ind.) supported two weeks of training in the field for the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division out of Fort Riley, Kan. While providing the brigade with class 1 (food) supplies, the 138th also trained in their logistics specialty and convoy operations. It was the first time at the NTC for the company, said Capt. John Moore, commander for the 138th.
The quartermaster company normally manages an area called a supply support activity, where Soldiers handle several classes of supply, according to Moore. The automated logistical specialists normally receive supplies from outside sources and then direct the transport of those supplies to units in forward areas.
However, during this NTC training rotation, the 138th took on the mission of delivering food to approximately 5,500 Soldiers on rotation, said 1st Lt. Ryan Short, executive officer of the 138th.
"We bring food to Soldiers," Short said. "We will not fail in that endeavor."
Private first class Vannessa Callas is from Terra Haute, Ind., and has been in the National Guard for a year and seven months. She described her duty as providing security for the people and vehicles of the convoy, and "taking out the enemy if necessary." Her role was quite different from her usual duties, she stated. It wasn't her first time providing convoy security in training situations, she said, adding that the 138th was getting better at convoying and constantly making improvements.
The training at the NTC has been excellent, said Sgt. Tabitha Dixon, a logistics non-commissioned officer with the 138th. Dixon, from Terra Haute as well, supervises four Soldiers and stated that the training has definitely tested her as an NCO, requiring her to be flexible and able to adapt on short notice. She also appreciates the opportunity for deployment-type training.
"This is probably the closest that my unit can provide me with overseas training," Dixon said. "Our leadership has been great, [with] people who have been deployed teaching us younger Soldiers exactly what we need to do, things we need to look out for -- here and overseas."
Moore said that junior Soldiers were appointed as convoy commanders, giving them opportunities to learn from the experience and from NCO's who have years of service. During convoy operations, junior Soldiers received courses of action from the NCO's and were allowed to implement them without too much interference.