FORT HOOD, Texas - When it comes to deployment operations, it is critical that units deploy with the right personnel and equipment. During the logistical planning process, it's crucial that equipment gets transported, and rail load teams help get them to their final destination.

Sustainers from 13th Expeditionary Sustainment Command certified on rail loading operations March 13-14 at the Fort Hood Railhead Operations Center.

Marines from 1st Tank Battalion, 1st Marine Division, instructed the training which assisted in getting equipment back to Marine Corps Logistics Base, Barstow, California, but also supported 13th ESC's Command Deployment Discipline Program.

The CDDP is a United States Army Forces Command program and a commander's tool designed to enhance unit deployment readiness and maintains unit level fundamentals for deployment and redeployment operations.

The Soldiers received an one-day classroom block of instructions before moving to the hands-on portion at the rail yard.

For this portion of the training, the Soldiers received briefings before conducting receiving, staging and final rail road preparations on both wheeled and tracked vehicles.

Part of the hands-on training involved visually and physically inspecting vehicles, and Sgt. Cameron Johnson, 1st Medical Brigade, had been looking forward to the training.

"We performed pre-combat checks and pre-combat inspections making sure the equipment was ready to be rail loaded," Johnson said. "This is good training for everyone to know in case we have to do it to prepare for deployment."

Combat Support Chief Gunnery Sgt. Carlos Pastora, 1st Tank Battalion, 1st Marine Division, has conducted strategic mobility operations for over 10 years and his team instructed the Soldiers on which deficiencies to look for that would make rail loading the equipment impossible or create a safety risk, and he was impressed with the results.

"The teams did great," Pastora said. "It was awesome to see what they had learned in the class effectively put into action. They also helped catch some minor discrepancies which contributed to the timely and effective achievement of our retrograde operation."

One important aspect that cannot be overlooked during rail load operations is safety and Pastora and his team stressed this since day one.

"Safety is most important," Pastora said. "When conducting railhead operations, you have many moving parts occurring at the same time. If safety is not constantly on your mind, people can get hurt, equipment can get damaged and mission timelines can fail."

When it came to the tracked vehicles, there was one crucial difference when safely guiding the vehicles for loading.

"It was interesting learning about the proper tank hand signals," explained Spc. Muirne Cooney, 13th ESC. "When they move the tanks, they use different ground guide signals."

After the training was complete, 75 sustainers safely and successfully became certified on rail load operations, and is something the unit definitely needed.

"We need 20 percent of the unit to be trained for rail and air load operations," said Capt. Lauren Viverito, 13th ESC deputy G-4 and supply and services officer in charge. "We have to make sure we have our teams trained and in compliance with FORSCOM standards."

With the equipment safely back in California, Pastora and his team were appreciative for the efforts displayed by the Soldiers.

"We would just like to thank 13th ESC for their participation in the cross training between the two branches of service and their help in ensuring 1st Tank Battalion was successful while training aboard at Fort Hood," Pastora said.