By by Capt. Robert Best, 70th Brigade Support BattalionJune 9, 2008
During previous wars, Combat Service Support units established gun trucks to protect the vital shipment of supplies from enemy troops' ambushes along different major supply routes.
Before Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, the Army anticipated and trained for a linear battlefield. At the time, CSS units were not equipped and trained with dedicated firepower to ensure self-sufficient security of convoys delivering supplies to troops on the "front line."
The experiences of U.S. troops, such as the 507th Maintenance Company in Iraq, fueled a new emphasis on the importance of convoy live-fire training for CSS units.
"It is vital for logistics Soldiers to be trained and proficient in aggressively executing combat logistic patrols," said 70th Brigade Support Battalion's commander, Lt. Col. Willie Rios III.
The 70th BSB deployed its first duration of seven gun-truck teams, consisting of three Soldiers per vehicle, to Story range April 13 to conduct a five-day Convoy Live Fire Exercise 500 meters south of the DMZ.
During the exercise, the gun-truck teams endured long workdays in a hot, dusty environment and expended a barrage of rounds down range with mounted .50-caliber machine guns. The purpose of the exercise was to build upon combat logistics patrol tactics, techniques and procedures, and ensure Soldiers were prepared to conduct effective combat logistics patrols in the Korean theatre of operations.
Each gun-truck team and the combat logistics patrol commander were assessed on their ability to react to specific Warrior tasks and drills, which are quite common in Iraq. The drills included reaction to ambush, Improvised Explosive Devices and vehicle-borne IEDs, said 1st Lt. John Okolo, the executive officer of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 70th BSB.
"As a lieutenant, it was fulfilling to train in an exercise that incorporated the realism of combat logistic patrol without the loss of life," Okolo said.
CLP commanders faced the challenge of preparing a convoy to react effectively in various forms. Command and control proved difficult because the decision to react and shoot was decentralized to each vehicle. Because convoys are combat operations, the A-symmetrical battlefield requires that the strictest possible force protection measures be planned and executed for any move of any distance.
In the end junior leaders were trained and confident in their ability to conduct a CLP. The gun-truck crews were able to communicate, identify threats, engage, and perform battle drills in a full spectrum environment.