By Sgt. Nathan Akridge, 31st Air Defense Artillery PAOSeptember 6, 2012
FORT SILL, Okla.-- One of the many challenges of a deployment is just getting you and your equipment there.
Soldiers from the "I Strike" 4th Battalion, 3rd Air Defense Artillery took the first step in ensuring their equipment's arrival overseas by conducting rail load operations.
The battalion spent three days loading more than 150 vehicles onto rail cars. While the execution only took a few days, the planning began six months ago.
"A lot of planning was involved to make sure we conducted a safe and effective operation," said Sgt. 1st Class Tim Crowell, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 4-3 ADA senior maintenance supervisor. "The hardest part was getting the equipment staged and set up by like item."
"When the Department of Logistics publishes a rail plan, not every rail car comes in order," explained 1st Lt. Daniel Valero, HHB, 4-3 ADA S-4 officer in charge. "When the cars come in a different order than planned, DOL has to change their load plan. When they do, we have to move vehicles to accommodate the load plan."
But the "I Strike" battalion didn't have to face this challenge alone. Soldiers from their sister battalion, 3-2 ADA "Lethal Strike," rolled up their sleeves and assisted with the task at hand. 3-2 Soldiers helped with both the planning and the execution phases, and many involved said 3-2's help was critical to mission success.
"It's crucial to have a battalion not push itself," said Valero. "A battalion is going through a thousand things at once as they prepare for a deployment; to expect them to push themselves is daunting. The help 3-2 provided was crucial to our success."
Despite the heat, many of the 3-2 Soldiers were proud to assist in this endeavor.
"Being able to help our sister battalion in itself was an award," said Spc. Jonathan Zimmermann, 3-2 ADA. "It's nice to know that while I'm not doing my traditional duties, I'm still accomplishing my mission. This rail load is a prime example to us Soldiers that our efforts are not fruitless."
The experience and lessons learned from 4-3's rail load will also benefit 3-2 when they prepare to deploy in the fall of 2013.
The "I Strike" Soldiers were proud of the team effort put forth. They also had an opportunity to learn something new.
"Knowing how everything is properly secured was interesting. We've always had our vehicles shackled but never knew how to properly load them," said Staff Sgt. Isidro Facundo, from HHB, 4-3 ADA.
This little bit of extra knowledge made some Soldiers feel more comfortable that their vehicles would reach their final destination safely.
"We are confident that our vehicles will get there safely and securely because of our efforts here today," said Spc. Andres Limon, HHB 4-3 ADA.