FORT BLISS, Texas -- In preparation for Roving Sands 2018, the 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command, and its brigades, unloaded incoming vehicles Feb. 12, 2018 at the rail yard on Fort Bliss.

Roving Sands, originally developed by 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade in 1989, is a joint air defense exercise integrating Army, Air Force and Marines.

Twelve soldiers from the 51st Expeditionary Signal Battalion from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, arrived Feb. 9, 2018 as the advanced echelon. Twenty-one supporting Point of Presence (POP) personnel were also present. POP is the signal communications that link up to the satellite and draw service. A total of 155 soldiers will be on ground from the 51st Expeditionary Signal Battalion in support of two battalions within 69th Air Defense Artillery brigade during the Roving Sands exercise.

Prior to the deployment, 51st Expeditionary Signal Battalion conducted a two-week communications exercise where they validated all of the communication systems before shipping them to Fort Bliss.

"Roving Sands is a good opportunity to test the expeditionary capacity of the battalion to deploy in support of other exercises," said Maj. Jeremey J. Fox, Battalion executive officer of the 51st Expeditionary Signal Battalion from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. "Coming from Washington all the way to Texas, it's a great exercise for our company level leaders, especially the company executive officer's and platoon leaders to plan a deployment of troops and equipment."

On February 13, 2018, after all of the vehicles have arrived, 51st Expeditionary Signal Battalion will conduct a small communications exercise to ensure everything is working properly.

"It's the same process that we would do if we were deploying to another country," said Fox. "We did line hall with approximately 43 flatbeds for the vehicles and containers as well."

Depending on which side a vehicles fuel tank is on, after the vehicles exit the flatbed, petroleum supply specialist immediately filled up the vehicle before it was staged in the snake pit.
"This method is very time efficient," said Sergeant 1st Class Patrick Charles, battalion petroleum supply non-commissioned officer in charge for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 142nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion at Fort Bliss. "This two day operation may turn into one day."

Charles said if there was only one area to fuel vehicles and the vehicles fuel tank was on the opposite side, they would have to run the hose underneath the vehicle, which results in more time.

Moving into the days ahead, Roving Sands will continue to test the brigades' ability to conduct our core competencies and move with a core element to conduct air and missile defense training.