Va. Transportation Company heeds the call, prepares to haul

Soldiers from the Emporia-based 1710th Transportation Company, 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group conduct battle drills Feb. 13 at Fort Pickett, Va. as part of their pre-mobilization training. Approximately 160 Soldiers in the unit are scheduled to enter federal active duty April 1, 2013 after training at Fort Pickett and conducting other pre-mobilization tasks. They will conduct their final training at Fort Hood, Texas, before heading on to Afghanistan where they are expected to conduct transportation support operations and convoy security for military and host nation convoys. The mobilization is expected to last 12 months. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Terra C. Gatti, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

FORT PICKETT, Va. – At training sites across Fort Pickett, Soldiers from the Emporia-based 1710th Transportation Company, 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group are honing their warrior skills as they conduct pre-mobilization training in advance of their deployment to Afghanistan later this spring.

“We’re going to be doing convoy security and support for the host nation’s trucks, as well as for U.S. and allied forces, and we’ll also be performing our normal transportation movements,” explained Capt. Rodney C. Rhodes, commander of the 1710th Transportation Company. “Our motto is ‘You Call, We Haul,’ so now that we’ve got the call, the Soldiers are ready to haul.”

The company arrived at Fort Pickett in early February and will spend much of the month training there before heading back to their readiness center in Emporia on Feb. 21 to conduct individual equipment inspections to ensure that all Soldiers in the unit are suitably equipped for the upcoming mobilization, expected to last 12 months.

“We look at transportation as a cornerstone because nothing moves unless we move it,” Rhodes said of the important role his company will play while deployed. “Anything that needs to be moved on the ground, we can move it.”

Soldiers will train on several battle drills, including react to ambush, react to contact and evacuate a casualty, conduct IED lanes training, weapons qualification and continue driver’s training for the U.S. Army’s Palletized Load System, according to Rhodes.

The 1710th was formerly trained and organized as a medium cargo transportation company, but began training on the PLS during their annual training period last August. Along with PLS vehicles, the Soldiers will also operate Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected vehicles, or MRAPs, during their deployment.

“I’m a little excited,” said Spc. Ashley Lee, the unit’s armorer said of his feelings on the upcoming deployment. “It’s a lot of emotions, but at the end of the day I know that I trust my leadership and I trust the training that I’m getting here at Fort Pickett so I’m pretty sure we’re going to be able to go there, do our job, and come back safely.”

The approximately 160 Soldiers of the 1710th Transportation Company will come on federal active duty orders April 1, 2013 and will head to Fort Hood, Texas shortly thereafter where they will conduct mobilization training for 45 to 60 days before heading on to Afghanistan in late spring of 2013.

“Once we get to Fort Hood our validation will consist of a culminating training event which is about five to seven days long,” said Rhodes. “During this, the entire unit will be focused on what we’ll actually be doing in theater and it’s also a chance for us to make up anything we can’t complete here.“

The 1710th Transportation Company last served on federal active duty in Iraq where they provided medium lift transportation capabilities that moved critical supplies from logistical support areas out to forward operating bases from May 2008 to February 2009. The unit traveled routes throughout Iraq and conducted more than 75 missions, traveling more than 900,000 miles.

“I’m excited to be part of the 1710th and just looking forward to getting there and getting back and seeing my family and friends – Hooah 1710th!” said Lee.

More on the 1710th Transportation Company:

Emporia-based 1710th Transportation Company ordered to federal active duty in April 2013

Virginia Guard Transportation Company gets head start on deployment training

Photos: AG and SEL visit 1710th Trans. Co. pre-mobilization training – Feb. 5, 2013

Photos: Virginia Guard Transportation Company heeds the call, prepares to haul – Feb. 13, 2013