By Sgt. William BegleyJune 30, 2014
HUNTER ARMY AIRFIELD, Ga. - Units from 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade conducted an Emergency Deployment Readiness Exercise to prepare for future contingency operations on Hunter Army Airfield June 23 to 27.
The culmination of events began Mar. 4 when 1st Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment conducted a weeklong Situational Training Exercise including movement to field site by quartering party and tactical operational reporting by commanders in the field. This EDRE tested the logistical processes for staging and inspecting equipment at the readiness marshaling area and then rail or air movements to and from the airfield.
Second Lt. Kayla Eppele, Company A, 603rd Aviation Support Battalion was in charge of the readiness marshaling area overseeing all aspects of the emergency deployment of unit's rolling stock and containers to either the air terminal or rail head on Fort Stewart. She said there were concerns prior to the exercise on the skill level of the team and proper allocation of assets to support mission, but that training serves to identify critical tasks and will help eliminate problems in future exercises.
"This exercise will identify shortfalls," said Eppele. "For example, when Soldiers do preventative maintenance checks and services, if it's not done right it will create problems such as deadlined vehicles which leak and have to be repaired before they can ship. It's the fundamental things Soldiers do on a day to day basis that really get amplified during an exercise like this."
Army Capt. Luke Calvert, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd CAB served as the lead planner, and has been tasked with carrying out the orders and briefing process for the EDRE.
Calvert said there are always issues moving from planning to execution, but we have a thorough contingency plan that will allow us to get the greatest training value, even as issues arise; or especially as issues arise.
"The EDRE is allowing the Task Force to practice some of the more complicated essential tasks associated with what we foresee to be their future contingency mission set," said Calvert. "This is a great opportunity for them to iron out the friction points and grow as a unit and team."
The Railhead Node Officer in Charge was 1st Lt. Debbie Smith, Headquarters Support Company, 603rd ASB. Her task was to move 10 percent of a battalion's rolling stock for the EDRE from convoy to railhead, where it was loaded onto railcars for movement.
"We will stress the system; it's not a check the block kind of training exercise. We are doing difficult operations on a limited schedule. The commander wants to ensure that we get full training value, that we tax the system and be as realistic as possible," said Smith.
Eppele said this was the first time she had been placed in charge of an RMA during an EDRE and said it was stressful. It was impossible for her to anticipate all of the roadblocks she would encounter. She was thankful for a strong group of noncommissioned officers who helped her to make the mission a success.
"NCO's make it happen, and so do the Soldiers," said Eppele. "If it wasn't for them here executing none of this would be happening, it would be a done deal."