As Soldiers of 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, prepare for the unit's Joint Readiness Training Center rotation at Fort Polk, Louisiana, some spent Aug. 1-3 loading vehicles for shipment via the Cumberland River.
First BCT Soldiers were joined by Soldiers from 584th Support Maintenance Company, 129th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 101st Airborne Division Sustainment Brigade, 101st Abn. Div., to move long vehicle convoys from Fort Campbell to Lock C, then load vehicles and equipment aboard several barges.
Captain Katy C. Jackson, a medical logistics officer with C Company, 426th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st BCT, said transporting by barge reduces the time it takes to load, requires less personnel and also is less expensive compared to using trains or semi-trailers.
"This barge company has been wonderful to us," Jackson said. "They've just been very supportive of the Soldiers, and we really like working with them."
Three push-boats will each carry a 15-barge tow to the staging point in Louisiana where members of 1st BCT will be waiting to receive them.
Team members from the barge company, Greystone Logistics, coordinated specific parts of the loading and towing processes.
"This is our first work effort with 1st Brigade [Combat Team]," said Bill Kinzeler, a project coordinator at Greystone Logistics. "We have found, from the officer and general staff all the way down to the truck drivers, an extremely good degree of coordination and cooperation."
The Soldiers on hand were a mix of specially licensed drivers from the numerous units. Every driver depositing a vehicle onto the barge participated in combat water training prior to this operation.
"I think it's been a pretty smooth process and we're just making sure everyone is safe," Jackson said. "After that it's been pretty easy."
Sergeant Matthew C. Chesney, an infantryman with D Company, 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st BCT, said he felt a strong sense of accomplishment from working through the process of loading the barge, identifying ssues and helping to overcome them.
"It feels pretty good being able to help out the brigade in any way possible, whether it's loading these vehicles or ground guiding vehicles onto the barge," Chesney said. "Everyone that's a part of this detail is a huge asset in getting the brigade ready to deploy to JRTC."
Jackson viewed the operation as a success, a significant contribution to the mission and predicted that the Army will exercise the option of using transport by barge more frequently in the future, she said.
"I think the Soldiers are very proud of how many trucks they put onto the barges," Jackson said. "This is huge. The majority of our trucks are going by barge. This is Soldiers physically getting to contribute to us going to JRTC, so I'd say that this is a pretty big part of it - and we get to do it all while being by the river, which is kind of relaxing, so I think the Soldiers appreciate that too."