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Minnesota National Guard
Red Bull Cavalry escorts convoy into Iraq

The Convoy Escort Team (CET) "Earthpig 30" from Charlie Company, 1/34th Brigade Special Troops Battalion attached to 1st Squadron, 94th Cavalry, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Red Bull Infantry Division conducted convoy escort duties for the 233rd Transportation Company, 3rd Sustainment Command along with Third-Country Nationals (TCNs) from Camp Buehring, Kuwait to Victory Base Complex (VBC), Iraq Nov16 

"Earthpig 30" is currently deployed to Camp Buehring, Kuwait in support of Operation New Dawn and will be providing convoy security through the final month of the drawdown in Iraq

Once a Convoy Escort Team crosses the border into Iraq anything can happen Anything from routine breakdowns, to being hit by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED), can happen when a convoy is on the road, "CETs" must prepare for it all "Earthpig 30" is no different



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The Soldiers based out of Hutchinson and Redwood Falls, Minn, meet twenty-four hours out from their mission Start Point (SP) time at the maintenance area for their Pre-Combat Checks (PCCs) and Pre-Combat Inspections (PCIs)  All their equipment is laid on the floor in neatly matching piles for inspection Truck Commanders (TCs) go through with a checklist making sure each individual Soldier has their equipment in working order After the platoon leader and platoon sergeant inspect Soldiers' equipment, Capt Peter DeCrans, commander of Charlie Company, walks through and does a personal check of everything himself

"After the PCCs and PCIs we get our SP time," said Sgt Mark Weekly, a truck commander (TC) for third squad, first platoon, Charlie Company, 1/34th BSTB  

On the day of the mission the trucks of "Earthpig 30" move to the staging lanes to prepare to head out on the mission Prior to leaving, drivers conduct preventive maintenance checks and services (PMCS) to their Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle (MRAP)  After doing PMCS on their vehicles, drivers load their MRAP according to a load plan set up by the CET commander prior to mission Every truck has an identical load plan so that in case of an emergency, equipment can be easily accessed without delay

"Earthpig 30" mounts their weapons and meets up with the 233rd Transportation Company, 3rd Sustainment Command, to conduct a safety brief A prayer was said before putting on their body armor and mounting up 
Weekly commented, "I do my final inspection before the safety brief to make sure our MRAP's crew serve weapon (a machine gun) is operational and to make sure everything is strapped down"

Shortly after leaving K Crossing, the convoy was brought to a halt for suspicious activity Weekly and another Soldier in the squad investigated the situation  They determined that there was no immediate threat and continued the mission to Camp Adder, Iraq

En route to Victory Base Complex (VBC), the convoy was halted by two maintenance emergencies, which set the convoy back several hours

"You have to be prepared with maintenance issues because they will happen from time to time," added Weekly  

At K Crossing, the 233rd Transportation Company and the TCNs parted ways with "Earthpig 30" to go through border customs "Earthpig 30" fueled up their MRAPs and did a hasty tire change to move back to Camp Buehring where they off loaded their equipment cleaned their weapons and recuperated 

"I think this is something I am going to look back on with mostly good memories, which I am grateful for," said Pvt Garret Denne "I am going to look back and say I was a part of something big; I was with people I trusted and cared about and even if I don't do anything for the rest of my life I know that here, what we're doing now, we are actually accomplishing something that's affecting many people-- American and Iraqi in all sorts of ways"

By Spc Mathew Schlueter
1st Brigade Combat Team
16 Nov, 2011






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