By Pfc. Victor AyalaJune 19, 2009
FORT POLK, La. - The dull roar of engines helped punctuate the arrival of Soldiers with the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, as offloading began at Fort Polk's rail head on June 3.
Soldiers have been receiving vehicles shipped from the Northwest and preparing them for the brigade's rotation through the Joint Readiness Training Center.
The Soldiers are preparing for an upcoming deployment to Iraq.
In addition to its Strykers, the brigade brought with it a large number of other tactical vehicles, all of which had to be prepared for the training to come. First came the off-loading. Soldiers guided the vehicles along the narrow flatcars, then into shop bays, for inspection. Once inspected, Soldiers outfitted them with the Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement Systems.
The MILES gear included laser receivers along the surface of the vehicles. These detect laser strikes from MILES-equiped weapons systems on JRTC's simulated battlefield. Improvised explosive devices and rocket-propelled grenades are just a couple of threats the MILES can simulate.
For Spc. Alois Peter, a gunner with B Troop, 2nd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, the MILES gear is a new training tool. While he is unfamiliar with the technology, he is optimistic about its contribution to the training to come.
"I went straight from basic to Iraq, so I've never used it," Peter said. "It'll help us train against (the sort of weapons we might see in combat)."
The offloading and outfitting of the vehicles was expected to continue through Saturday. Sergeant 1st Class Don Oakes, NCO in charge of inbound rail operations for the brigade, said the operation was going smoothly. Once the mission there is done, Oakes said he was looking forward to getting "into the box" for the real training.
"This is our culminating event before our deployment to Iraq," Oakes said. "There are some good live-fire exercises planned and five to six days of force-on-force training.
"It should be fun," he said.
Pfc. Victor Ayala is assigned to the 49th Public Affairs Detachment. This story appeared in Fort Lewis' Northwest Guardian.