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CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait On Jan. 8, at the Kuwaiti Naval Base, Soldiers of the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division began a mission most had never performed before.
At 6 a.m., Sledgehammer Soldiers, along with Soldiers of the 47th Transportation Company and 316th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, began offloading 12 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, four Paladins and three support vehicles from flatbed trailers onto a loading ramp at the KNB.
The 47th Transportation Company transported the vehicles from Camp Buehring, Kuwait to the naval base a day prior to the mission.
The vehicles were then driven onto the decks of four United States Army vessels of the 420th Movement Control Battalion in preparation for Operation Spartan Mariner.
The purpose of this training mission is to enhance interoperability between adjacent units, said 1st Lt. Anthony Rea, executive officer of A Company 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd ABCT. It gives us the opportunity to conduct training both logistically and tactically that probably only occurs once in a lifetime for Army forces.
The morning of Jan. 9, USAVs Churubusco, Five Forks, Maj. Gen. Robert Smalls and Maj. Gen. Charles Gross set sail on the Persian Gulf.
I was surprised at first that the Army actually had boats, said Spc. Daniel Desisto, an infantryman assigned to A Company, 1-15 IN, 3rd ABCT. It was an honor to be part of this mission. I was told this is the first time Bradleys had seen the water in a very long time.
The units training did not end once they were underway. Soldiers conducted radio communications, as well as man overboard and fire drills.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Vernon Slaughter, vessel master of USAV Churubusco, explained that these vessels generally cruise at 12 knots even with six Bradleys, weighing over 150 tons, on board.
With three-to-six-foot seas crashing over the side of the vessels, the flat-bottomed Churubusco began to vigorously rock from side to side.
It started out as a blast, for about the first hour while we were docked, without getting hit by the waves, said Desisto. Once we got out to sea and the waves started hitting us, it was rough. A lot of us got seasick, but I was glad to be part of this mission. It is something I will never forget.
The vessels sailed two hours out and returned, giving the Soldiers from the different units time to interact, cross train and bond.
Because of coordination with supporting units, particularly the 47th Transportation Company, the execution portion of loading and unloading the vehicles went smoothly, said Rea.
The exercise demonstrated the ability to rapidly transport vehicles for any possible contingency in the region, explained Rea.
I think the Soldiers really got a feel for how big of a deal this training event was with so many people out and about to witness the execution portion, said Rea. It gave them something to be proud about.