“One million mission miles in less than 60 days on mission, while maintaining an equipment readiness rate throughout the brigade in excess of 90 percent is a huge success,” said Sgt. Maj. William N. Frost, operations NCOIC, Headquarters, Headquarters Battery 115th FiB. “The vast majority of these miles are driven at night while escorting large convoys that [in the past] have experienced accidents, medical emergencies and the occasional Improvised Explosive Device.
The Soldiers attribute their safety record to constant training and avoiding complacency.
“We review battle drills and have safety briefs before every mission,” said Staff Sgt. Shawn M. Hauf, a convoy commander, 2-300 Field Artillery from the Wyoming National Guard. “There’s always something we are training on to better ourselves and stay prepared so that we can come home safe.”
After every mission, the Soldiers in the convoy meet to discuss the scenarios they faced and point out the good and bad. They talk about how they could have done things differently to improve the situation and compile this information into an After Action Report. These reports are used to determine training needs and to establish standard operating procedures.
“You learn from each mission because they are all different,” said Hauf. “We escort different trucks, and the terrain and weather change. The training we do on our off time is to better us and will defeat complacency.”
The 115th FiB mileage started accumulating the end of July when the individual units completed their Relief in Place training with the unit they replaced from the 29th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Hawaii National Guard.
“Within the first 30 days, we realized we were accumulating mission miles at an unbelievable rate,” said Frost. “When we started totaling the mileage early after the RIP, the magnitude of the mileage we would accumulate became evident.”
The 1-151 FA from the Minn. National Guard, the 2-300 FA from Wyo. National Guard, and A Company, 960 Brigade Support Battalion from the Wyoming National Guard are the Units conducting convoy security. The 1-147 FA from the S.D. National Guard and the 151 Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear from the Alabama National Guard conduct Security Force missions.
Only the security force and convoy security mission mileage is counted in the brigade’s million miles. This does not count the miles driven from the separate companies conducting other missions. Travel from commanders and staff members for administrative reasons is excluded as well.
The mechanics performing maintenance on the vehicles have also made a significant contribution to the brigade’s first million miles.
“They put 200 to 1000 miles on a vehicle and we spend about four hours checking it out and doing repairs,” said Sgt. 1st Class Albert R. Marcus, motor sergeant, 1-151 FA “If it’s broke, we fix it. If it needs a new engine, we just replace the engine. If it needs springs, we replace the springs.”
“As a rule, we have the vehicles ready by the time the crew is ready to go out again for their next mission,” said Marcus.
According to Frost, the brigade will exceed four million miles during the deployment at the current rate of missions, however; the number of convoys is expected to increase due to responsible drawdown in Iraq.
“Safety will have to be the Soldiers highest priority in completing these missions,” said Frost. “The Next goal will be for each of the individual units to achieve a million miles.”
“This is a big deal for the mechanics as well. If they don’t keep the vehicles running we wouldn’t have achieved this million mile mark, and we won’t reach future goals,” explained Frost.