The call could come at any time and the Soldiers of 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, must be ready and willing to pick up the phone, even if that means transporting an entire brigade's motor pool from the Port of Tacoma to the beaches of sunny San Diego.
In preparation for their annual training at Fort Irwin National Training Center in California, 2-2 SBCT conducted an emergency deployment readiness exercise beginning in the early hours of Aug. 13 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. The EDRE was designed to test the unit's ability to rapidly deploy their forces to the theater of engagement at very short notice.
Equipment was transported from JBLM via Interstate 5 to the Port of Tacoma.
"It allows us to exercise our muscles to understand where we might fall short and making sure that we're ready in case we are called to go to combat," said Capt. Edward Miller, the officer in charge of movement operations for 2-2 SBCT. "A big part of this is being able to visualize and understand how everything moves."
Seeing military vehicles sharing their morning commute on I5, a highway notorious for its traffic congestion, might be disconcerting for residents of the Pacific Northwest, but the exercise allows the Army to practice readiness not only for combat, but for natural disasters as well.
"It's always good to be prepared for anything of that nature," said Damon Poulin, the security manager for the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command. "I'm retired military and I remember from back when I was a young pup, that every combat unit has a mission essential task list that needs to be performed and the first mission was always to deploy the force because if you can't get the forces to the fight, you've already lost."
More than 1,900 moving pieces, including containers and Strykers, were scheduled for transport by ship to the port of San Diego.
The key to a successful operation during an exercise of this magnitude is to be able to think on your feet because, Poulin said, anything that can go wrong, will.
"Murphy is always out there looking to do something," Poulin continued. "A unit could have everything prepared properly when they leave home station but things always happen in transit. Vehicles decide they don't want to run anymore or documentations blows out the window. There's a lot of deliberate planning that goes into an event like this and you've got to be prepared for anything."
Practicing exercises of this scale helps to minimize potential disruptions in the event of an actual emergency.
"The concept of putting an entire brigade's motor pool into this small of an area gets very challenging too," said Miller. "Understanding how everything fits in together and being able to operate here has really opened up my eyes in a sense of what it really takes to move a brigade just to San Diego, let alone across an entire ocean."