BLUE GRASS ARMY DEPOT, Ky., June 22, 2011 -- Soldiers of the Army Reserve and National Guard kicked off Operation Golden Cargo at Blue Grass Army Depot, Richmond, Ky., June 7, 2011, by moving their first convoy of ammunition as part of a nationwide large-scale transportation support training exercise.

Members of six Guard and Reserve units, headed by the 1050th Transportation Battalion, are working together in this annual training event to update and refresh their skills in an exercise which simulates how logistics work in a combat theater of operations. But it is also a real-world exercise, giving Soldiers an opportunity to move thousands of tons of ammunition in support of the Joint Munitions Command.

The first cargo contained stockpiles of inert or outdated artillery rounds to be destroyed.

For the Soldiers of Task Force Red, the team headed by the 1050th, it’s a chance for transportation, munitions, medical, and other skill sets to be improved and for lessons learned in combat operations to be passed on to newer Soldiers, said Capt. James Brown, support operations officer for the 1050th. Many of the battalion’s Soldiers recently returned from deployment in Afghanistan, where they conducted similar missions.

“We have a lot of new Soldiers, so this is going to be something new for them,” said Brown. “This is a major exercise which is going to give our Soldiers great experience and an opportunity to perform a real-life mission.

Lt. Col. Renita Berry, commander of the 1050th, emphasized that the exercise challenges her Soldiers to perform their mission as safely and as carefully as possible, perhaps even more so than in a combat environment.

“We have to be careful with the ammo,” said Berry. “There are certain areas that won’t allow us to bring it through. Certain states don’t even want us traveling through parts of the city.”

Safety, both to civilians and to her Soldiers, is Berry’s greatest concern.

“I’m worried about our Soldiers getting back here, that I’m getting them there safe and I’m getting them back safe, so that at the end of the mission I’m sending them back the way they came.”