Contingency training: challenging Soldier skills

Maj. Mark Wright
21st Theater Support Command

***image1***A convoy of Humvees slowly makes its way down an old dirt road in a tranquil section of a German forest. Shots suddenly ring out. The convoy commander has been hit.

Pfc. Jason Keilers, riding in the turret of his Humvee, quickly whirls in the direction of the shots and lays down a withering fire on the ambushing enemy insurgents with his Squad Automatic Weapon. The driver hits the gas, barreling out of harm’s way.

Fortunately, this situation was only a simulation.

The Soldiers of the Troop Support Battalion, 21st Theater Support Command, were in the Baumholder training area last week, learning how to deal with events like this one, which could very likely occur in areas of deployment.

The Soldiers were preparing for any contingency that could deploy them as part of the 21st TSC’s Assault Command Post. This is a rapidly deployable Command and Control Headquarters that the 21st TSC’s commanding general could send into a situation to supervise and control logistics.

The Soldiers not only learned how to prepare themselves for command and control of logistics operations in the ACP, but more importantly, they learned what it takes to stay alive.

“This training is to get our Soldiers prepared for any mission downrange,” said 1st Sgt. Vincent Williams, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, TSB. “This will let our troops practice their Soldier skills, and that will keep them alive in combat.”

The Soldiers first practiced setting up the ACP, consisting of about a dozen large tents, power generators, concertina wire, guard points, heaters, tables, chairs, power lines and much more. After finishing that, the command turned its attention to getting the Soldiers practice in basic tasks such as participating in vehicle convoys, weapons handling, and living in a field environment.

The Soldiers realize the realities of deployments and know they need to be prepared.

“I wish everybody could get this kind of training,” Private Keilers said. “This will give us insights into our actions during real combat situations.”

To provide the most realistic and challenging training, the command arranged for an opposing force to challenge the ACP Soldiers. Sgt. Issac Rivera dressed in a black hooded sweatshirt to give the Soldiers the opportunity to practice their actions with either hostile or non-hostile civilians on the battlefield.

“It’s a lot of fun, and useful for the Soldiers,” Sergeant Rivera said, smiling.

Landstuhl Regional Medical Center took part in the training as well, sending two of their medics, understanding that if the ACP deploys, these would be the same medics that would deploy with them.

1st Sgt. Williams noted that the Soldiers’ morale seemed even higher in the field than in garrison, indicating that these kinds of opportunities for training are welcomed by the troops.

“In the rear, you can only learn so much from Power Point slides,” he said. “This week has been great practical combat training and the Soldiers know it.”