NEWS | July 24, 2017

Big Lots West for a 'Cause'

By Capt. Eric Connor 311th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary)

They say if you build it they will come. In order for it to be built, the parts and components first have to be delivered. And that’s where the U.S. Army Reserve comes in.

The U.S. Army Reserve’s Big Logistics Over the Shore West 2017 exercise kicked off July 14 at the Port of San Diego, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Naval Base Coronado, and other locations surrounding the place dubbed as America’s Finest City.

Big LOTS West 17 is a multi-component exercise involving Soldiers from the Army Reserve, active-duty U.S. Army, Navy, Marines and U.S. Maritime Administration who train and conduct logistics and sustainment operations involving the transportation of cargo and materiel, and ship-to-shore duties.

This 311th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), a U.S. Army Reserve unit based in West Los Angeles, plays a major role in overseeing the exercise, and has been delivering on its promise, literally. The command relies heavily on its subordinate units for the exercise and they are meeting the challenge.

Not even the sweltering triple-digit heat of the Mojave Desert was enough to slow down the 250th Transportation Company from El Monte, California, which found itself with the important mission of assisting with uploading and then transporting multi-million dollars’ worth of equipment that make up a Modular Causeway System.

The MCS, best described as a mobile floating pier designed to load and unload equipment or personnel onto inaccessible land, started on a ten day journey from Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia by rail before Soldiers from the 250th took the lead.

After observing the system’s rail off load, Soldiers from the transportation company then assisted with the meticulous uploading of the MCS section by section onto the back of several of their M915 line haul trucks and PLS’s for transport from Marine Corps Logistics Base in Yermo, California, to the Port of San Diego.

“We’re making multiple runs to the port as an essential part of Big LOTS. It’s a good feeling and good training,” said Staff Sgt. Juan Veliz, a convoy commander for the 250th Transportation Company.

On the other end, nearly 200 miles down the road in San Diego, the 331st Transportation Company, an active-duty unit based at JB Langley-Eustis, awaited the delivery of the mission-critical equipment.

“We’re transporting the bridge and its components by line-haul and the 331st is actually going to build the causeway bridge,” said CW3 Matthew Taylor, a 428th Transportation Company Soldier working with the 250th TC.

The successful and on-time delivery by the 250th meant Soldiers of the 331st could get to work, first building a Modular Warping Tug or MWT and then the causeway.

“We do this all the time, makes you feel good, but it’s definitely a team effort. We work with the Army Reserve and other services on this exercise to bring it all together,” said one 331st Soldier helping to construct the MWT.

“Its (ultimate) purpose is that it is connected to the roll-on/roll-off discharge facility and then shipped simultaneously out to sea,” added 1st Lt. Zach Wilson, the 331th officer in charge of the MWT and MCS’ build.

When it’s all said and done the intense man-hours and eventual completion of the causeway system mission translates into another successful training operation and team effort for all the services involved and a momentary breather before moving on to the next big training mission for Big LOTS West 17.