By Staff Sgt. Rob Strain, 15th Sustainment Brigade Public AffairsMay 4, 2009
FORT HOOD, Texas - About 50 Soldiers from the 49th Transportation Battalion headquarters deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom following a small ceremony April 25 at the Kieschnick Physical Fitness Center.
Soldiers and families gathered to say farewell to the Soldiers as they departed on the yearlong deployment to Iraq.
According to Lt. Col. Peter Haas, the battalion's commander, the 49th has a different mission than other transportation battalions.
"Our combat systems are computers," the Fleetwood, Penna., native said.
While deployed, the Soldiers will have the mission of providing movement control to a very large portion of Iraq as one of only six movement control battalions on active duty, Haas said. In theater, the headquarters will control 20 different movement control teams spread across the entire country.
According to Haas, the battalion will track and control the movements of all military traffic, including convoys.
"We're the people that say, 'You can leave now,'" Haas said.
He explained that transportation was broken down into three distinct areas: terminal operations, which include processing cargo at air and sea ports; mode operations, the actual movement of personnel and cargo by road, rail, sea, or air; and movement control.
In addition to controlling military movements, the unit will a have a hand in every piece of military cargo that moves into or out of the country.
"I really take pride in the fact that we are a part of the machine that makes it all work," Haas said.
In order to prepare for the deployment, the battalion had to undergo extensive training on movement control tracking systems, in addition to the normal pre-deployment training done by all Soldiers, said Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph Bivens, the battalion's senior enlisted advisor.
The training was different than what most transportation units go through, because the 49th doesn't actually move any cargo, Bivens said.
The unit conducted two battalion staff exercises as well as two mission rehearsal exercises, including a 10-day exercise at Fort Eustis, Va.
"It really gave us a frame of reference for what we are going to do in theater," Bivens said.
According to Bivens, the months of training and exercises have paid off for the Soldiers.
"Our Soldiers are trained and competent in their jobs," he said. "We just have to tie it all together."