Story and photos by
Spc. Erin Sherwood
45th Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs, 8th Theater Sustainment Command
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — From a distance everything appeared calm.
A line of humvees slowly curled their way around the trails of East Range, their gunners poised at the ready for appearance of the enemy.
But this was not an invasion from a foreign power. The 536th Support Maintenance Company, 524th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 45th Sust. Brigade, conducted a convoy live-fire exercise, April 24, in preparation for its upcoming deployment to Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan.
The exercise was one of many the 524th CSSB is conducting to prepare its Soldiers for possible situations when they are downrange. This one focused on recovery of a damaged vehicle. Soldiers were expected to work as a unit to recover the vehicle as fast as possible, reacting to enemy contact appropriately and rescuing a casualty.
“Communication with this stuff is really important,” said Sgt. Jose Figuroa, vehicle maintenance Soldier with the 536th. “It can be tough because you have to communicate effectively with both your vehicle and the other gunners.”
Figuroa, who was the gunner for the last truck in the exercise, said he thought the exercise went well, “but we could always use more practice.”
The terrain on East Range couldn’t have been more challenging. A recent rainstorm made the mud on the site where the exercise was conducted soft and gooey. After the maintenance was performed, Soldiers had to figure out a way to get the vehicles out of the mud and back on the main path.
The exercise was only training, but Maj. John Lankford, the officer in charge of support operations for the 536th, wants his Soldiers to remember they are preparing for a real rescue mission.
“When you’re out in Afghanistan, you might not have four hours to recover a vehicle,” he said. “You may need to do it in one. Guys on the wire are relying on you to get them out and going again. You have to have a sense of urgency.”
The Soldiers gathered for an in-depth after-action review after the exercise at the motor pool. Although the training went well, they have a ways to go before they are warfighter ready for a vehicle recovery in Afghanistan.
After a quick breather, they were off again at 4 p.m., for their next pre-deployment exercise.