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Minnesota National Guard
Taking the scenic route: Traveling across Afghanistan to deliver goods

Minnesota National Guard BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan- Soldiers assigned to 1st Platoon, 114th Transportation Company, Minnesota National Guard, and 1st Platoon, 730th Transportation Company, an Army Reserve unit from California, joined forces to conduct a convoy escort team mission to pick up goods from a remote forward operating base in Regional Command-North and transition them to here

CET operations are the most dangerous type of mission logisticians do throughout Afghanistan Master Sgt James Sabyan, convoy commander assigned to 1st Platoon, 114th TC said Soldiers prepared for their mission by conducting preventive maintenance checks and services on their vehicles and ensuring quality assurance/quality control inspections were completed They conducted a map reconnaissance, a manifest convoy brief and called ahead to make sure the loads were ready

Soldiers also test fired weapon systems and ensured communication equipment was operational among many other checks

Leaders conducted their pre-combat checks before rolling out the gate and Soldiers from both companies arrived to wish the convoy safe travels

The 114th TC took the lead on the first leg of the trip Soldiers assigned to the 730th TC recently arrived to Afghanistan and this mission allowed them the opportunity to ask questions about how tactics, techniques and procedures may be implemented during certain scenarios as they watched road-tested warriors execute the mission

"I'm glad we got paired up with the 114th," said Sgt. 1st Class William Gentry, convoy commander assigned to 1st Platoon, 730th TC "They were the perfect unit to work with They were very willing to give up their knowledge"

The two platoons built a relationship based on trust and understanding during the mission "The knowledge is there," said Sabyan "The leadership is there They just had to get rubber to the road and make things happen I'm confident they will do great on their own when they start running missions"

The respect among Soldiers was evident in the way they spoke about each other and how they worked as a team

"They have been really respectful," said Spc Javier Toyos, a gunner assigned to the 730th TC "They have been here before so their experience helps people who have not been here like me They know what they are doing"

Sabyan said although there are sustainment missions being conducted, lately, most have been to transition equipment

Items such as generators, vehicles and containers full of equipment were among the loads that were being transported by host nation trucks

Transportation movement requests were checked and Soldiers verified the National Afghan Trucking vehicles were mission capable by visually checking oil and fuel levels, tire tread and batteries After the inspections, leaders held meetings to ensure the 730th TC Soldiers were ready to take the lead on the return trip

Gentry said the team was excited and prepared well, which made him feel comfortable with his team being able to accomplish the mission

Soldiers were given a 24-hour rest period before preparations were made for the trip back Gunners and dismounts exchanged duties with drivers and truck commander's, which allowed them to experience the mission from a new perspective and put their training to the test

The roads were narrow at times and the Salang Pass tunnels were riddled with traffic A quick fuel stop allowed some Soldiers to dismount and view the environment in a more intimate way

Staff Sgt Natale A Neely, assistant convoy commander assigned to the 730th TC, said the view was surreal

"It looked fake," said Neely "Like a cartoon"

Several stops were made to check on trucks that were having maintenance issues but, for the most part, the mission was accomplished safely

Gentry said his Soldiers did a good job driving a vehicle that they typically don't drive, on the austere Afghan terrain

After the mission was complete, sensitive items were accounted for, trucks were cleaned and a debrief with the battalion intelligence section was conducted

Soldiers went to get some rest They know they have many missions ahead Logisticians will continue to travel across Afghanistan to ensure sustainment operations are successful as well as the transition of equipment in order to assist the Army with meeting its goals in support of Operation Enduring Freedom

May 20, 2014
by Sgt. 1st Class Luis Saavedra
10th Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs

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