By Staff Sgt. Jon Cupp, 1st Cav. Div. Public AffairsJanuary 27, 2009
CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait - Main Body Soldiers from the Division Special Troops Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division, took their first major step toward their 12-month deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom Rotation 08-10 this week arriving to Kuwait before heading to their final destination in Iraq.
Nearly all of the battalion's deploying Soldiers landed on flights here and were on the ground by Jan. 24.
Capt. Seth Gould, operations battle captain for DSTB of Covington, Ga, said this stopover in Kuwait is a necessary step which involves the processes of reception, staging, training, onward movement and integration.
Gould said the reception phase began when DSTB Soldiers arrived to Camp Buehring, where they scanned their identification cards into a computer database which records their arrival date, and that they are in theater. It's the time when the clock officially begins ticking on their 12-month deployment, Gould said.
After that, they received a force-protection brief along with other information about Camp Buehring and life in the combat zone. The Soldiers were then sent to the dining facility for a hot meal and afterward were taken to their tents.
With the reception phase complete, the troops, who have just arrived from a long flight, are given a chance to rest before they start training the following day.
"A cot is the most comfortable thing at that point; I was knocked out and snoring," said Spc. Jennifer Zukas, human resource systems information management specialist for Headquarters Service Company, DSTB, of Canton, Ohio. This is her second deployment.
"The first time it's kind of overwhelming just getting here, but the second time you know what to expect."
Gould said the staging phase involves such things as ensuring Soldiers and their equipment, such as vehicles, are ready for the movement into Iraq. Some of this includes making sure final paperwork is done and that DSTB Soldiers can get pieces of protective equipment that they may have not been issued to them in the states.
Within the training phase of their stay in Kuwait, the Soldiers take classes on such topics as fratricide prevention, improvised explosive device awareness and go to a close-quarters marksmanship range. The CQM range involves techniques of firing weapons while moving and also close-quarter team drills.
Along with this, Soldiers may also train in vehicle rollover simulators and receive a driver's training course to learn how to drive in a combat zone.
"Kuwait is a training node and a great opportunity for Soldiers to get refresher training," said Gould. "At a minimum, it gives them a chance to test fire and confirm [the accuracy] of their weapons to make sure they are ready for combat.'
'The close quarter marksmanship training is different from weapons qualifications that Soldiers received [at Fort Hood], which involves 300-meter to 500-meter, pop-up targets or paper targets. The CQM range actually makes the training mimic the fight and gives them a realistic feel for the way they would most likely fight in Iraq."
Niklas Frenz, a nodal network systems operator repairman for Company C, DSTB, from Minneapolis, Minn., said the training was an eye opener.
"I really enjoyed the training - especially the fratricide prevention class which helps us to more easily identify friendly forces - it really opened my eyes," Frenz said. "There was also a lot of good information put out at the IED class; I learned about things that I didn't even know existed. The range was great. I now have a lot more confidence in my weapons system."
For the integration phase, the Soldiers were given the opportunity to live together in tents at Camp Buehring while also getting a better understanding of life in theater.
"The environment here is a little similar to what life will be like on a forward operating base in Iraq and it takes you out of your comfort zone and puts you back into a tent with your buddies, placing you close to the people you'll be working with," said Frenz. "It's a good way to get used to conditions that we'll be living in."
Gould said being in Kuwait is the most important phase to Soldiers because it gives them a chance to acclimate to the environment, so that they won't be a heat casualty, as well as giving them the opportunity to learn about what it's like to be deployed.
He added that this phase also gives both Soldiers, who are first-time deployers, and those who are combat veterans, a chance to get to know one other and build camaraderie.
"It's a great opportunity to get to know more about each other and helps with team-building and building trust with the people on your left and right -- having confidence in knowing they will do the right thing; they have your back," said Martin.
During their downtime on Camp Buehring, while awaiting their day to fly to Iraq, the DSTB Soldiers have the opportunity to visit the camp's Morale Welfare and Recreation Center, the United Services Organization, watch movies at the camp theater, or they can take advantage of three dining facilities, three post exchanges, a gym, several fast food restaurants and a free laundry facility.
"I like to take time to work out; it's a good way for us to train ourselves for the environment by keeping in shape," said Martin. "When I can, I also like to work on self progression by studying for the promotion board. [Camp Buehring] is also the best place to go the education center before we get to Iraq."
The onward movement phase, which is the last part of the process, involves the actual movement of DSTB Soldiers and their equipment from Camp Buehring to Iraq. Equipment containers and vehicles are offloaded from ships at Kuwaiti ports, and then taken to Iraq whereas Soldiers board flights from Camp Buehring.
All of the DSTB's troops will be in Iraq by early February.