Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. - The Titans of Charlie Company, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, I Corps, huddled around their platoon sergeant, Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Williams, as he set the scenario for their next simulated convoy mission at Joint Base Lewis-McChord May 10.

"The mission briefing is as follows," said Williams. Transport two colonels to the embassy, with chances of roadside improvised explosive devices, small-arms fire, and distracting citizens obstructing the route.

The Signal Corps Soldiers have been conducting convoy operations training in preparation for their slated deployment this summer to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
"Completing this training today is just one step of many," Williams said. "It's used as a stepping stone to further solidify our training before we go into theater."

Their mission in Afghanistan will be to provide movement control support to the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command, getting Soldiers, civilians and possible very important persons from point A to point B, said Williams.

Due to being a signal company, this training is vital, said Williams. Normally, the mission downrange has to do with communications, rather than transport.

The deployment provides the opportunity to showcase the versatility of Charlie Company, which, prior to receiving orders had provided communications support to I Corps.

"Let's mount up!" said Williams.

His Soldiers manned their Humvees, and the convoy departed down a forest road. One-quarter mile into the mission the convoy received small-arms fire from the right. Williams shouted over the radio with orders to increase speed and push through the enemy contact. One vehicle was left disabled, signaled by thick, red smoke billowing into the air, leaving the convoy to halt and provide assistance.

Spc. Kyle D. Vickers, a surplus Soldier, immediately shot out of his Humvee and laid down suppressive fire with his M249 light machine gun, while Williams helped to secure the disabled vehicle.

Vickers will be providing convoy security in theater and after firing nearly 200 rounds from the automatic weapon he said, "The enemy will receive it as hell on Earth for them."
Vickers, a Houston, Texas native, has deployed twice to Iraq as an engineer and said the training is getting him back in the mindset of being ready for contact at all times and staying ever vigilant.

"It's good for the Soldiers to get out and get some hands-on training and simulation," said Williams. The subject matter experts conducting the training have given his Soldiers insight that has helped build their confidence.

While the training centered on reacting to enemy attacks during transports, the seasoned noncommissioned officers also stressed upon the importance of communication and the unit cohesion it takes to overcome those obstacles en route.

"We've got great NCOs," said 2nd Lt. Denver Lee, platoon leader from Boise, Idaho. "That's one thing that's going to make a huge difference downrange. There are a lot of really good leaders who know their people and know how to treat them."

The warriors of Charlie Company returned from their deployment to Iraq in March of 2010. They have again proven their ability to be successful in their training and in focusing their minds on the upcoming mission downrange.