By Sgt. Eben BoothbyMarch 29, 2018
CONCORD, Calif. - Active duty, Reserve and National Guard Soldiers from around the nation recently converged at Military Ocean Terminal Concord to test their capabilities in moving ammunition and supplies from overseas stations to state-side plants and depots for maintenance.
The two-month exercises, known as Operation Trans Mariner 18 West and Operation Patriot Bandolier, took place in February and March. The combined operations consisted of real-world activities involving the use of container vessels and military convoys to move ammunition and supplies.
"This is a dangerous mission. Soldiers are traveling thousands of miles through challenging terrain and busy highways," said Lt. Col. Craig Swank, 220th Motor Transport Battalion and OPB Task Force Commander. "You can't possibly eliminate all the risks, so we have to focus on the things you can control, like ensuring Soldiers are getting the proper amount of rest, and ensuring we are using ground guides."
Planning for this operation has been ongoing since June 2017.
"This was an exercise in planning for change, and ensuring clear communication with the many partnered commands and units," said Maj. Joshua Winkleman, OPB Task Force Project Officer with the 220th Motor Transport Battalion of the Missouri National Guard.
A fluctuating vessel maintenance schedule required his planning task force to alter how they made decisions.
"We needed to focus on what will continue to drive this mission forward and assess its ongoing feasibility given the many changes," said Winkleman. "We had to extend our influence beyond our chain of command and learn the actual impacts of certain shifts in timeline for the units on the ground."
The exercise employed teamwork, logistics and transportation forecasting.
"This is one of the best opportunities for a battalion or brigade staff to work on a holistic planning and preparation processes. The development of perspective is invaluable, knowing every decision you make has a real-world implication," Winkleman said.
Developing Soldier experience in logistics and transportation relates directly to Army readiness. Soldiers must know how to move equipment and supplies quickly and efficiently in support of the Army mission.
"Operation Patriot Bandoleer provides a tremendous opportunity for Reserve Component Soldiers to train their staffs in mission command, while conducting missions that are useful to the materiel enterprise," Army Materiel Command Assistant Deputy Commanding General for National Guard Affairs Maj. Gen. Allen Harrell said. "This operation is a great example of exercising total force partnership that will pay dividends during any future mobilization or operation overseas."
"The challenge now is to develop ways of growing the exercise to incorporate other types of units executing additional mission sets," Harrell said.