CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. –
The Soldiers of the 353rd Transportation Company, located in Buffalo, Minn., arrived at 6 a.m. On Thursday, Sept. 12 to a rainy day to start their unit level four day weapons qualification here. One hundred and ten Soldiers convoyed in their M915A5 semi-tractor to their temporary duty station for the weekend.
Upon arrival the convoys went straight out to the zero range to sight in their assigned M4 rifle. There were 15 new Soldiers to the 353rd Transportation Company who had never fired their weapon before with the unit. Some were firing the M4 for the first time.
After a long day on the zero range the Soldiers drove back to their barracks to download their gear and conduct Master Resiliency Training which focused on real-time resilience, problem solving and avoiding thinking traps. The evening concluded with Emergency Management Preparedness briefing.
Members of the unit were up early on Friday, as they were running four ranges simultaneously that day. The unit had the M4 qualification Range, the M249 squad automatic weapon range, the .50 Caliber heavy machine gun range and drivers training while using the night vision goggles.
Even though it was a full day of training with many moving parts, the Soldiers within the company got 100 percent qualified on their assigned weapon systems and got familiarized on their crew served weapon systems. Soldiers were able to safely drive while using the night vision goggles around a designated course. All Soldiers that are licensed within the unit will have this device on their license.
Saturday morning was another early one as the Soldiers again had four ranges to manage. These ranges would run consecutively to each other. First thing the Soldiers went to the grenade practice range where they were given instruction on safety procedures for handling the grenades and the proper throwing techniques.. Once they felt comfortable they drove their vehicles to the live grenade range. Every Soldier threw at least two live grenades. Several soldiers stated that they didn’t think the Army Reserve ever did training like that. Once the grenades were gone the Soldiers moved to the CS Gas Chamber to test the functionality of their newly assigned M50 Pro Masks.
The Soldiers lined up in groups of 20 and Spec. James O’Neill, the unit’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Specialist, ran through movements to ensure the masks were sealed completely. He also covered safety instruction and helped anyone who was having difficulties with their new masks. Next the Soldiers moved into the CS Gas Chamber to break the seal on the mask, clear the mask, and reseal the mask. Soldiers removed their mask entirely as they walked out of the chamber. Sgt. First Class Joshua Anderson stated, “The CS Chamber is one of the most formidable training events for a Soldier to partake in, however it is the best way to instill confidence in our protective masks. The masks effectiveness was immediately evident when we de-masked.”
After the Soldiers recovered they moved across the street to the Leadership Reaction Course. They broke down into their squads and performed the team building obstacles honing their critical thinking and problem solving skills. Spec Francisco Corona stated, “I liked that the squad worked together. Everyone offered an idea to solve the problem and all the ideas were discussed before deciding on the best course of action.” The day ended with weapon cleaning and a Sexual Harassment/Abuse Response and Prevention training.
On Sunday morning the unit loaded their gear and the equipment to prepare for their convoy home. Once they arrived they downloaded their gear and worked on administrative items. Spec. Dustin Hafften reflected on training packed weekend: “I have done more this weekend with this unit than I did for the last two years at my previous unit. We did lots of training.” This was his first Battle Assembly with the unit. Soldiers within the 353rd Transportation Company had a long and tiring weekend but it was one designed with skills that the Soldiers will take forward in their career.