Three Kaiserslautern-based 21st Theater Support Command units are scheduled to deploy this month to support Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The 66th Transportation Company, the 612th Movement Control Team and a team from the 191st Ordnance Battalion are three of six 21st Theater Support Command units slated to deploy to support Operation Iraqi Freedom this month. The Soldiers in those units say they understand what the mission is and are ready to accomplish it.
“We need to get down range and provide support to those Soldiers who have been carrying out a mission of peace. Those troops are tired and need our help,” said Spc. Torey Dantzler, a driver with the 66th Transportation Company, which is based at Kleber Kaserne.
Dantzler is one of roughly 1,000 21st TSC Soldiers that will deploy to support Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom this month.
Morale of the out-going troops is important to the commands of the deploying units.
“High morale is the best way to keep the Soldiers on their toes, ready to train and execute,” said Sgt. Rodney Howell, team leader and driver with the 66th. “Many of the Soldiers in this unit, including myself, have never been in a situation like this before. We are going to be moving from place to place constantly and must always be ready for anything to ensure a successful mission.”
Part of building high morale is making sure the Soldier is well trained and his personal situation is under control, Sergeant Howell said.
To train deploying 21st TSC Soldiers, they conducted a series of mounted and dismounted exercises geared toward familiarization and acclimation for convoy operations in combat. The 66th completed their convoy live fire exercise in Grafenwoehr in December, followed closely by Soldiers from two companies of the 51st Maintenance Battalion who will also be deploying in January. Before the live fire, the Soldiers have opportunities to go through the exercise with blanks and multiple integrated laser engagement simulation equipment. The next run through is with live ammunition. U.S. Army Europe requires this convoy live fire training for units deploying to the OIF area.
“The exercises help with simple things like getting out of your vehicle quickly and engaging the enemy or engaging the enemy from a moving vehicle. Simple things you don’t want to try to figure out in an actual combat situation,” said Sgt. Donn Antonia, 23rd Ordnance Company, 191st Ordnance Battalion.
All the deploying units completed a convoy live-fire before the Soldiers went on block leave over the holiday season.
“This is going to be a difficult job and all of our Soldiers need to be ready to go,” Sergeant Howell said. Each soldier needs to ensure they have taken care of their finances, family matters, housing, storage and basically anything that they might not be able to deal with for perhaps the next year.
The deploying units must rely on each troop doing the things that make the entire unit successful.
“The unit is somewhat like a gear driven machine, or like a clock,” Sergeant Howell said. “Each gear, or troop, must operate smoothly to ensure proper time, or in our case to complete a successful mission.”
Sergeant Howell smiled as he said, “The race for excellence has no finish line and the 66th Transport is an excellent organism that strives for excellence.”