631st trains for convoy security missions

Story by Sgt. Ryan Twist
139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs

CONTINGENCY OPERATING LOCATION MAREZ, Iraq Soldiers from the 631st Maintenance Company just started their tour here in Iraq, but they take their mission at Contingency Operating Location Marez, Mosul, Iraq, seriously.

Staff Sgt. Brumvie B. Williams, convoy commander of B Team, with the 631st Maintenance Company out of Stark, Fla., said a route reconnaissance mission Oct. 12 allowed Soldiers to learn to navigate the roads, communicate with each other and familiarize themselves with the terrain.

“I think it was successful,” said Williams, a Jacksonville, Fla., native. “We were able to reach our SP point. We briefed the mission beforehand, and we were able to complete the mission with no casualties, no incidents.”

Williams said the Soldiers gain valuable knowledge during their missions, giving them insight on what to expect along the route.

“It’s a lot better than coming into it cold and not knowing what to expect,” said Williams.

Capt. Maria J. Garcia, commander of the 631st, accompanied the Soldiers during this training mission to observe their planning, as well as their tactics, techniques and procedures for convoy security, she said.

The training gives Soldiers valuable insight into the details of the mission. This allows them to ask well-informed questions and get help from Soldiers more familiar with the area instead of worrying about the unknown, said Garcia, a Gainesville, Fla., native.

The 158th Support Maintenance Company out of Tallassee, Ala., is providing familiarization training for the 631st, in order to prepare the incoming unit for sustainment operations in the northern-most region of Iraq.

The 631st’s mission is to provide convoy escorts to KBR, Inc., personnel, said 1st Lt. Travis J. Petersen, recovery platoon leader with the 158th.

Petersen, a Cherokee Village, Ark., native, said the 631st Soldiers are capable and came to Iraq with a good mindset, knowing what they would be doing. He said he tried to provide thorough training for their mission.

Garcia said Soldiers learn how to do their pre-combat checks and inspections, and convoy briefs before they leave on their missions.

“The 158th is really taking the time to give them detailed information so that when we actually do our transfer of authority, we’re ready to take on the mission,” said Garcia.

Sgt. Christopher B. Miller, truck commander with the 733rd Transportation Company out of Reading, Pa., who is currently assisting the 158th, said the 631st is up to par on its training and the Soldiers are willing to learn. He said they have a few more route recon missions to accomplish, but the transition is going very well.

“I’ve only been on the mission for the last three months, but it’s a great mission,” said Miller, a Palmyra, Pa., native.

Miller said it can be intense to have to be ready to roll outside the wire at all times. He also said the lighting systems, maintaining vehicles for the missions and constantly working on communication systems were obstacles the 631st would have to face.

“These guys will have no problem accomplishing the mission and being successful at it,” said Miller.

Petersen said hauling vehicles out of Iraq has become a priority since the drawdown of U.S. forces and equipment from the country began. The biggest lesson for Soldiers to learn is being able to adapt to any situation, said Petersen. He said it is hard for the Soldiers to be away from their homes and families, but as long as the noncommissioned officers work to ensure they take care of their equipment and responsibilities, the unit will succeed.