993rd Transportation Company works with Canadians to increase readiness

By Sgt. Sarah Zaler | 326th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment | May 30, 2017

WAINWRIGHT, Canada — Receive the mission. Load up. Deliver supplies. Return to base.

That is the typical way a transportation company conducts business, but one Army Reserve unit found out there is more than one way to get the job done at Maple Resolve 17.

More than 650 U.S. Army Soldiers are supporting Maple Resolve 17, the Canadian Army’s premier brigade-level validation exercise running 14-29 May at Camp Wainwright, Alberta, Canada. The 993rd Transportation Company, with units in Palatka and Lakeland, Florida, were tasked to provide logistical, transportation and security support.

The Soldiers thought their annual training would be spent at the main encampment of the exercise, known as P12. The area is filled with rows of dark green tents laid out on a grid of dirt pathways. Tactical vehicles are staged on the perimeter. The center of the encampment houses the mobile kitchen trailers and dining tents, complete with TVs to catch the hockey playoffs. There is even a mobile gym. Not quite the comfort of home, but not the worst conditions either.

Spending two weeks here, transporting goods out to the forward operating bases (FOBs) and then returning to P12 would have been similar to a deployment for the 993rd.

Spc. Omar Rosario, a heavy wheeled vehicle operator from Avon Park, Florida, has deployed twice during his career. He said a typical operation involves getting a load from the central receiving and shipping point, delivering that load to the proper location, picking up another load and continuing to another FOB or returning back to the main base.

Instead, the 993rd found out they would be living and working with their Canadian counterparts in the field. No showers, no toilets, no heat.

Spc. Melissa Mcleod, a transportation operator from St. Petersburg, Florida, said she was caught off guard by the change in plans. Acclimating to the cold temperatures and rainy weather was a challenge, especially since a lot of their gear was still loaded on the Canadians trucks, but she adjusted quickly.

Some Soldiers didn’t mind the unexpected change in their living situation.

“I’m able to adapt,” said Rosario. “To me, this is a lot of fun.”

Pfc. Bradley Dodson, who is on his first annual training, said being in the field is his favorite part, even if it is cold and wet.

A maintenance mechanic from Ocala, Florida, Dodson said the rough conditions help the unit’s overall readiness.

“We can learn how to work together as a team to get through the situations,” said Dodson. “It gives us the edge for when we go to combat.”

Those who have been deployed, like Rosario and Mcleod, know what Dodson is talking about and can share their knowledge and experience during exercises like Maple Resolve 17.

Mcleod served as the convoy commander’s driver during her 2013 Afghanistan deployment. She said this exercise is very different.

“Normally, we don’t stay out in little FOBs for the most part,” said Mcleod. “We go from a bigger FOB, where we’re based at, then go to all the little FOBs.”

Working in this atypical way provided valuable learning opportunities and increased the interoperability of the forces.

Rosario said they’ve been learning about the Canadian vehicles and had opportunities to ride in the front seat with their counterparts during convoys. This first hand experience allowed them to compare and contrast each other’s procedures.

“It’s a little bit different from how we do it,” said Rosario. “But, we train together. It’s good because they’ll learn from us, we’ll learn from them.”

The Soldiers also learned lessons in providing effective security, both stationary and roving.

They took shifts guarding the entrance to their joint-forces camp, where the tents and vehicles are tucked into the tree line surrounding three clearings in the woods, and pulled security from foxholes throughout their location in case of an attack from the opposition force. During the first week of the exercise, they discovered some of the foxholes were set up in bad locations and worked to build new, more effective fortifications.

When providing security for the convoys bringing goods and equipment into the field, they faced attacks and even lost security vehicles.

Though not a new skill, Rosario said the practice in security measures prepares them if they were to get hit on a convoy and had to stay out overnight guarding their vehicles and supplies.

Loading and unloading trucks by hand isn’t a new skill for the 993rd either, but it is how the Canadians operate. Everything is usually done with a forklift in a PLS unit, said Rosario, but the Canadian’s cargo trucks don’t allow for that convenience. It’s another basic skill that benefits the unit.

“It gets us ready if we have to do that in combat,” said Rosario. “If a mission comes out, and we’re on terrain where we’re not able to off-load a rack with the system, we can do it by hand.”

Readiness is the U.S. Army Reserve’s number one priority, and while Maple Resolve 17 posed many challenges to the 993rd, it enhanced their overall skill sets and combat effectiveness.

“Everything were doing, even security, we’ve done it before,” said Rosario. “It’s good practice so whenever we have to use it we’re more ready.”

News Search