July 20, 2016 –
FORT MCCOY, Wisc. -- The U.S. Army 88 series military occupational specialty is typically associated with solely driving trucks. However, as the U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers from the 931st Expeditionary Theatre Opening Element showcased, the 88 series is also responsible for the movement of equipment and supplies by land, air and sea.
The 931st, based out of Sherman Oaks, Calif., participated in the U.S. Army Reserve Trans Warrior exercise July 9 through July 23, 2016, here. Trans Warrior provides U.S. Army Reserve transportation Soldiers an opportunity to train realistically on port operations.
“It’s been a great experience having real equipment, moving real containers, using real systems with realistic scenarios,” said Staff Sgt. Kiefer Maddex, a Glendale, Calif. native and the 931st ETOE’s acting operations non-commissioned officer for Trans Warrior. “It’s an opportunity for transportation MOS Soldiers to practice and expand their knowledge. This particular operation is port operations so it’s the ability to expand their knowledge in each specialty area in regards to getting a port up and running, overcoming obstacles and development of a new port, an existing port or for a unit taking over a port.”
The Soldiers of the 931st started off the exercise at Fort McCoy just as they would a deployment by going through soldier readiness processing, setting up their Tactical Operations Center and taking classes on the three main Centric systems needed for their mission at Trans Warrior.
Those systems were Transportation Coordinators’ Automated Information for Movement System II or TC AIMS II, the Integrated Computerized Deployment Execution System or ICODES and the Global Air Transportation Execution System, better known as GATES.
“We tried our best to throw little hiccups in,” said U.S. Army Reserve Sgt. 1st Class William Thomas, a Brooklyn, N.Y. native and member of the 1174th Distribution and Deployment Support Brigade based out of Fort Totten, N.Y. “It’s been very close to real-world as far as what has been going on in the scenarios. Anytime you can get Soldiers more training, it benefits everyone as a whole. The more subject matter experts the better. Now these young Soldiers can go off and go train others.”
Thomas stated that the Soldiers of the 931st, who he was observing and training, had to simulate both port and container yard operations utilizing the Centric systems.. He said that the Soldiers simulated loading a real vessel from beginning to end.
The computer based systems that the Soldiers utilized were TC AIMS II, I-CODES and GATES. Each system serves a different function, allowing Soldiers to do everything from tracking cargo, ports, and vessels to ensuring the appropriate weight and balance for thousands of pounds of cargo.
For port and container yard operations, the 931st Soldiers worked with other units under the Deployment Support Command to ensure that each connex in the yard was appropriately tagged with a radio frequency identification tag. Further, they ensured the information matched across the systems and each container was simulated moving in and out of the port.
“I am able to see the bigger picture of the mission,” said U.S. Army Reserve Pfc. Minsun Kim, a Fullerton, Calif. native, who learned TC AIMS II during the exercise. “Before, it was just the moving cargo part of it but now I am able to see how the cargo is generated, where they came from and where they are going. I think it’s a lot more information to take in and learn.”
“It’s been a great exercise, not only for myself, but for others to interact with other transportation elements and understanding what their roles are,” said Maddex, who has been working in this field for nine years. “Understanding the roles they play in the logistical process, proving how we are one team, one fight.”
“Winning a war boils down to the movement of troops,” Maddex also said. “The transportation of their assets to the battlefield, and I would say that we support the war fighter to ensure they can complete their mission.”