CAMP TAJI, Iraq - Training is critical in developing and maintaining the skills and discipline needed for Soldiers in order to have a successful safe mission- whether in a training exercise or deployment to a combat zone.

Soldiers of the 1538th Transportation Company, an Indiana National Guard company from Elkhart, Ind., recognize that repetitive training is paramount for success.

"One of the biggest things I wanted to prevent is complacency, especially in the
later part of a deployment," said 1st Sgt. Jeff Spencer, a native of Westport, Ind.
"This company consistently trains on new tactics, techniques and procedures sent down from their higher command on a routine basis."

Soldiers learn to plan, arrange and execute safe and successful convoys while ensuring no loss of life or equipment.

As the unit continues to train on safe convoy operations, they have received an award for success ratings. The "Operations Zero" award was presented by Lt. Col. Randall Bradford, an Alexandria, La., native and commander of the 165th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion.

"The command of this company firmly believes that just because the Soldiers have been here for many months, does not mean they do not require training and that has been one leading factor in this company's great success," said Spencer.

Part of the training is getting Soldiers involved, to prepare and react properly to an event that might happen to any one Soldier while out on a convoy. Soldiers are given a combination of scenarios, enabling them to analyze situations, handle and execute while on mission.

A large number of the 1538th Trans. Co. Soldiers put many miles convoying around Iraq and are scheduled to return to Indiana in the early summer of 2009.