U.S. Army Reserve quartermaster units around the country are participating in the Quartermaster Liquid Logistics Exercise Enhanced (QLLEX-E) 2019 from July 13 to Aug. 2, in which Soldiers will conduct theater-level bulk petroleum and water distribution training to test their combat support skills and theater sustainment capabilities. The 952nd Quartermaster Company, based out of Livonia, Mich., has been participating in the preeminent petroleum training event for the last several years, and this year, the 952nd adjusted the focus of their training to include perimeter defense to prepare Soldiers for real-world scenarios.
Sgt. 1st Class Nakarit Tipvisan, the Fuel Operations NCO for the 952nd, experienced first-hand how vital perimeter defense training is when the unit deployed to Iraq in 2003.
“The training I received was pretty realistic,” said Tipvisan, “[but] we could use more of the defense portion; beef up the security. We do get ambushed out there a lot.” Tipvisan’s deployed experience motivated him to incorporate perimeter defense in the unit’s training.
The 952nd commander, Capt. Douglas Windell, also realized how little focus was devoted to defense when he took the helm: “When I came to the unit, we hardly did any of it. . . We went back to the very basics of perimeter defense and built from there.” Thus, over the past few years, the unit has made it a priority to implement more of this focus into their training, according to Windell.
The unit started with the basics of perimeter defense: sector sketches, fighting positions, fire support, identifying avenues of approach, and other area defense skills. They then built upon these skills, adding combat scenarios to their situational training exercises. Windell recounted a time during one of their battle assemblies when they decided to add some fun to the training by incorporating their combat skills in a snowball fight, having two teams rotate between defensive and offensive positions.
During this year’s QLLEX-E, each pump station and unit area was defended with armed guards at each entrance to challenge visitors with a phrase and await a corresponding response. The perimeter defense effort also involved positioning Soldiers at key points to cover possible avenues of approach from the enemy, installing HESCO barriers to cover and conceal key areas, and positioning vehicles to block entry from enemy vehicles. By implementing perimeter defense into their monthly and annual training, the 952nd ensures that its troops remain ready to supply and defend in a deployed environment.
The unit now incorporates ruck marches into their fitness training. Twice a year, the unit embarks on a four-mile ruck march with a minimum of 35lbs added to their carrying load. “There’s a trail we take, that’s two miles down and two miles back. We try to do this as early as possible before the surrounding area becomes too busy,” explained Cpt. Windell. In a deployed environment, the pump stations that they would maintain can range from being 20 to 75 miles apart. In a worst-case scenario, a pump station could be ambushed by an overwhelming number of combatants, and their vehicles could get disabled in the aftermath, forcing the Soldiers to grab their gear and march to the nearest pump station. Thus, adding ruck marches to their training regimen prepares the Soldiers for a real-world scenario they could possibly face on deployment.