Soldiers, Airmen train on transporting disaster relief system

Virginia National Guard Airmen and Soldiers from the Virginia Beach-based 203rd RED HORSE Squadron and Gate City-based 1030th Transportation Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group participate in a joint exercise to test the coordination and deployment plans of the Disaster Relief Bed-down System, July 13, 2014, at the Camp Pendleton State Military Reservation in Va. Beach. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Miko M. Skerrett, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

Virginia National Guard Airmen and Soldiers from the Virginia Beach-based 203rd RED HORSE Squadron and Gate City-based 1030th Transportation Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group participate in a joint exercise to test the coordination and deployment plans of the Disaster Relief Bed-down System, July 13, 2014, at the Camp Pendleton State Military Reservation in Va. Beach. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Miko M. Skerrett, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

CAMP PENDLETON, Va. – Virginia National Guard Airmen and Soldiers from the Virginia Beach-based 203rd RED HORSE Squadron and Gate City-based 1030th Transportation Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group participated in a joint exercise to test the coordination and deployment plans of the Disaster Relief Bed-down System, July 13, 2014, at the Camp Pendleton State Military Reservation in Virginia Beach, Va. The 203rd RED HORSE Squadron’s Airmen are trained and tasked with assembling and operating the DRBS, while the 1030th’s transportation companies can be activated to transport the DRBS containers in the event of an emergency.

“The DRBS is a self-contained system of generators and living facilities that can be moved to a disaster site,” said Army Maj. Tim Pillion, 1030th Transportation Battalion commander. This portable temporary base camp shelter system is designed to support up to 150 people with lodging, showers and other basic amenities.

According to the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, Virginia’s hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, with the greatest threat of damaging hurricanes starting in August. With August just around the corner, both the Virginia Air and Army National Guard units worked together to organize a joint exercise to see how long it would take to load, transport and unload the DRBS in the event that the Airmen and Soldiers are called upon for state active duty.

“This exercise is allowing both the Virginia Air and Army National Guard to basically test our capabilities with the DRBS,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Ronald Smith, command sergeant major of the 329th RSG. “It’s going to give us a realistic timeline of how long it would take to deploy this equipment. We can write load plans, but until we actually test it with people here on the ground and to actually see what it’s going to take, that’s when we can refine our course of action.”

As the sun rose on Camp Pendleton, Soldiers of the Fort Pickett-based 1173rd Transportation Company, 1030th Transportation Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group, gathered around Tech. Sgt. Chuck Roberts and Air Force Capt. Frederick Rankin, both of the 203rd RED HORSE Squadron, for a quick briefing. Roberts explained the day’s events: the 1173rd TC Soldiers were to drive their trucks to multiple stations where the Airmen of the 203rd RED HORSE Squadron would load the DRBS containers on to the beds of the trucks. After a quick trip around the block, the trucks would then return to the site to unload the containers.

“This is the first time we’re actually running through this,” said Roberts, a material management craftsman. “We want to know how much time it will take for us to load these containers and unload them on to a site.”

“While this may seem like a simple event, this is a huge National Guard asset that has already been used for real-world situations,” added Rankin, the Logistics Readiness Officer, while emphasizing safety throughout the exercise.

With the list of differences between the Air and Army National Guard, to include equipment, culture and even language, one could assume that several issues would arise from the joint planning. Both sides of the exercise said that the biggest problem was finding a date to conduct the exercise.

“The 203rd RED HORSE Airmen were really easy to work with,” said Pillion. “It’s always nice to work with other sister services and learn how they operate and see their equipment and facilities.”

Brig. Gen. Blake C. Ortner, the Virginia National Guard Land Component Commander, visited the site to check in on the status of the exercise. The general received a quick briefing on the ground from Pillion and Dinsmore, and was then shown the storage building for the DRBS containers. Overall, Ortner said he was impressed with how the exercise was progressing.

“This is a great mission because it’s the Air and the Army National Guard working together to make sure that they are successful when they are called upon to support Virginians,” said Ortner.

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