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NEWS | March 30, 2017

Houston Army Reserve unit tests warrior skills at WAREX

By Master Sgt. Dave Thompson 4th Expeditionary Sustainment Command

Over 60 U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers from the 453rd Inland Cargo Transportation Company based in Houston, arrived at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst early March to participate in WAREX 78-17-01.

WAREX is a large-scale collective training event designed to simulate real-world events during combat. Some 60 units from the U.S. Army Reserve, U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force and Canadian Armed Forces are participating in the joint training exercise from March 8 until April 1, 2017.

As America’s Army Reserve continues to build the most capable, combat ready and lethal Federal Reserve force in the history of the nation, exercises such as this WAREX test and assess a unit’s combat readiness and capabilities.

U.S. Army Reserve 1st Lt. Kristina Samuel, the 453rd ICTC commander, welcomed the opportunity to put her soldiers to the test of conducting cargo transfer operations, reacting to improvised explosive devices, preparing fighting positions and the myriad of other tasks related to operations in a combat environment.

“My soldiers know their jobs and they are very good at it, but the tactical part of [being a soldier] is where we need improvement,” said Samuel. “That’s why we’re here doing this, so that we can all improve.”

The 453rd’s mission during the exercise is to move vehicles, equipment and cargo in support of ground forces while operating from three separate locations under field conditions, all while contending with opposing force attacks and with evaluators monitoring their every move. Add to that sub-freezing temperatures and abbreviated sleep times, and the challenges amount rapidly.

“This training is beneficial because it puts people in a real-life scenario,” said U.S. Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Robert Canning, 453rd supply sergeant. “It gives you a wake-up call and makes you realize that you have to adapt and overcome the challenge.”

The Central Receiving and Shipping Point or “CRSP Yard” as the soldiers call it, is an expansive fenced off area where vehicles and shipping containers are stored until the owning unit comes to claim it. Here, soldiers seize the opportunity to hone their skills on operating massive container movers, forklifts and tractor-trailer trucks.

“It’s cold out here but that’s alright because this is where we get the best training,” said U.S. Army Reserve Spc. Michael Billings, 453rd motor transportation operator. “After two tours in Afghanistan, this is very much like the real thing and I’m glad to be here to pass on my knowledge to the soldiers that haven’t been.”

Billings, who is an HVAC technician in his civilian job, says much of the discipline and leadership skills that he has acquired as an Army Reserve soldier transfer to his civilian occupation and to life in general.

“I’m always on time...I’m always ten minutes early and people tell me that I’m respectful because I say 'yes sir' and 'yes ma’am.” said Billings. “I attribute that to the military and it’s helped me succeed in life.”

U.S. Army Reserve Sgt. Christella Martz, 453rd food service noncommissioned officer, arrived at WAREX having been briefed that she and her three cooks would assist in the main effort to provide meals for around 600 participants in the exercise. Assistance quickly turned into Martz being tasked as the lead and she was forced to switch gears to assume a much larger role.

“That’s not what I had planned for because, obviously, I would have planned differently,” said Martz. “We went to work right away to order all the extra things we were missing and our supply sergeant, Staff Sgt. Canning, got us squared away. This was really a team effort between my amazing cooks and the 660th and 803rd cooks. We all got together and made it happen.”

As WAREX continues, the soldier’s of the 453rd will continue to be tested and face added obstacles and challenges. How they respond will determine whether or not they pass validation and are deemed combat ready.

“My soldiers are doing great,” said Samuel. “Every day they surprise me and I’m amazed at how they get things done and rise to the occasion. They’ve already succeeded in moving over 800 shipments and have overcome a lot of challenges. When we have to do this for real, I know they’ll be ready.”

The 453rd is one of over 65 subordinate units under the U.S. Army Reserve’s 4th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) umbrella. These units, located throughout Texas, New Mexico, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Louisiana, comprise nearly 6,000 citizen-soldiers who are trained, combat ready and equipped to provide military and logistical support in any corner of the globe.