Annual training prepares 1030th Transportation Battalion Soldiers for wide variety of missions

Spc. Michael Thomason of the Virginia National Guard's Martinsville-based 1173rd Transportation Company, 1030th Transportation Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group, waits to be guided out of the motor pool at Fort Belvoir, Va., July 22, 2014. Participating in a real-world mission during the transportation company’s annual training, the Soldiers transported almost 30 Humvees from post to post. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Miko Skerrett, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

Spc. Michael Thomason of the Virginia National Guard’s Martinsville-based 1173rd Transportation Company, 1030th Transportation Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group, waits to be guided out of the motor pool at Fort Belvoir, Va., July 22, 2014. Participating in a real-world mission during the transportation company’s annual training, the Soldiers transported almost 30 Humvees from post to post. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Miko Skerrett, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

FORT PICKETT, Va. – Soldiers of the Gate City-based 1030th Transportation Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group participated in several different exercises during their annual training at Fort Pickett, Va., starting July 12, 2014. The battalion’s Gate City-based Headquarters Detachment, Manassas-based 266th Military Police Company and Martinsville-based 1173rd Transportation Company focused on individual and collective training to prepare their Soldiers for the wide variety of missions performed by units in the battalion.

“We’re not a typical battalion; we have four entities that can be deployed independently with completely different missions,” said Maj. Tim Pillion, commander of the 1030th Transportation Battalion. “The difference is that while most battalions deploy with the companies assigned to it, which keeps them on the same training and deployment cycle, our battalion has companies that are all in different training stages.

“While one company is focused on individual training, another is focused on collective training, so it’s a bit of a challenge to get the Soldiers training in a collective event,” he added.

One of the unique training missions during the annual training included the simulated lock up of Soldiers. The 266th MP Co. designed a creative exercise to provide their Soldiers with training on arrest and detainee procedures. Crafting a simulated “Most Wanted” list, which included top members of the battalion, the MPs were able to conduct refresher training on generating and serving arrest warrants. With silly and meaningless charges, the MPs practiced reading a warrant to Command Sgt. Maj. Tim Miller, the 1030th Transportation Battalion’s command sergeant major, and then simulated an arrest and search before interviewing and jailing the senior enlisted leader. Miller, who is also a Virginia State Trooper, was impressed with the MPs skills.

“Beyond the humor involved with this exercise, it provided a great learning experience for the Soldiers,” said Miller. “They were very thorough with the search and they seem to understand the basics.”

Also “arrested” was Chaplain (Capt.) Jeffrey A. Hicks, the 1030th Transportation Battalion’s chaplain. One of the chaplain’s infractions included his refusal to show movies with an “R” rating.

“I was really surprised that I was selected,” said Hicks. “It felt pretty realistic, and the Soldiers were nothing short of professional throughout the whole training exercise.”

Soldiers of the 266th also operated vehicle checkpoints on Fort Pickett. The Soldiers stopped all vehicles to check for the operator’s military or civilian driver’s licenses and, if it was a military vehicle, that the dispatch paperwork was filled out correctly.

At the rappel tower, Sgt. 1st Class William Hubbard, a Rappel Master of the 1030th Transportation Battalion, gave Soldiers participating in the rappel tower exercise a small bit of advice.

“Gravity is not your friend today,” said Hubbard as he and Capt. Clint Harris, operations officer of the 1030th Transportation Battalion, instructed Soldiers from the battalion, and even a North Carolina National Guard unit, on how to properly and safely rappel.

Soldiers also had the chance to work together in team-building exercises at the Leadership Reaction Course. The units also rotated between the weapons qualification ranges, IED defeat lanes, completed required annual classes, worked on self-development courses and took care of administrative tasks, such as updating their personal information and getting blood drawn for their annual HIV test.

The Soldiers were also given a couple of opportunities to accomplish a couple of real-world missions during their annual training. In the early hours of Sunday, July 20, 2014, Soldiers of the 1173rd Transportation Company prepared for a real-world mission to Pennington Gap, Va. For this mission, the 266th MP Company provided three Humvees and nine Soldiers for the convoy’s security escort. This mission also provided a challenging route for the drivers who did not possess a lot of experience behind the wheel over different terrains.

“This will be good training for me, because we will be driving on mountain roads, which is something I don’t have a lot of practice doing,” said Pfc. Victoria Smith, a truck driver with the 1173rd Trans. Co. Smith, a native of Richmond, Va., just joined the unit in December 2013. This was her first annual training with the unit.

The Soldiers of the 1173rd Transportation Company also hauled almost 30 Humvees July 22, 2014, from Fort Belvoir back to Fort Pickett. Pillion explained that this was only the beginning of what he has planned for future annual training events.

“We try to have a healthy mix of tactical training and real-world missions,” said Pillion. “Our goal is to have an exercise where the Soldiers participate in a real-world mission but instead of just returning to base, we’d like for them to go through a training exercise, like an IED defeat lane. We’re not there yet, but we’d like to eventually get to that point.”

“I think it’s going really well; there are a ton of things going on at once, and our role is to command and control that and ensure that all of the pieces are working,” said Pillion. “We are making sure that the companies are getting the support that they need to be successful in their missions.”

The unit is scheduled to complete their annual training July 26, 2014.

Although the activities at Fort Pickett were the focus of annual training, some Soldiers from the 1030th already conducted their AT in May in support of the U.S. Coast Guard. Eighteen Soldiers from the Gate City-based 1032nd Transportation Company hauled bulk and palletized equipment in eight M915 trucks to Naval Air Station Belle Chase in New Orleans. The Soldiers departed Gate City on May 7 and drove to Virginia Beach, where they loaded the equipment onto their trucks. They spent three days on the road before arriving in New Orleans on May 10. The Soldiers flew home the next day and then, on May 23, they flew back to New Orleans to begin the return trip. After unloading their cargo in Norfolk and Chesapeake, the Soldiers ended their mission on May 27 at Fort Pickett.

The Soldiers drove the eight trucks a total of approximately 24,000 miles without an accident or mishap, receiving valuable on-the-road training while conducting a real-world mission.

It was the second time Soldier of the 1030th transported equipment for the Coast Guard, according to Pillion. They previously conducted a mission hauling gear to New Jersey. They’ve also worked with the Navy, hauling old target boats from Norfolk to Fort Pickett, where they can be used as targets.

“We’ve done the Coast Guard mission twice now, with hopes to do it again in the future,” Pillion said. “We don’t know when the next one will be. It kind of depends on their schedule. If they just give us a call time, we’ll be there.”

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View and download high resolution photos on Flickr:

1173rd Soldiers navigate challenging leadership reaction course
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/sets/72157645448653159/

1173rd Soldiers on the range during annual training
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/sets/72157645807977376/

266th Soldiers conquer rappel tower
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/sets/72157645904187353/

1173rd Soldiers participate in convoy training
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/sets/72157645855021932/

266th MPs provide convoy security for 1173rd Trans Co. mission
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/sets/72157645444252237/

1173rd Trans Co drive real-world mission during annual training
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/sets/72157645809311906

MPs operate vehicle checkpoints during annual training
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/sets/72157645443788349/

MPs ‘arrest’ Soldiers on (fictional) ‘Most Wanted’ list
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/sets/72157645903127963/

1173rd Soldiers navigate challenging leadership reaction course
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/sets/72157645448653159/

AG visits 1030th Transportation Battalion annual training
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