Ohio guardsmen protect assets transported throughout Iraq
Story and photo by Spc. Michael V. Camacho
13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs
CAMP TAJI, Iraq — Ohio guardsmen provide convoy security for the transportation assets of the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and the convoy logistical patrols that leave regularly from Camp Taji, Iraq.
B and C troops with 2nd Squadron, 107th Cavalry Regiment, 155th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 155th Brigade Combat Team, 13th SC(E), serve as security for sustainment support convoys leaving Camp Taji, said 2nd Lt. Jason Funderburk, intelligence officer with convoy security, 155th BSTB.
"They provide logistics security for any of the combat sustainment convoys from the Taji area," said Funderburk, a Starkville, Miss., native.
They support regular sustainment missions destined for Joint Base Balad or Victory Base Camp, Iraq, he said.
Traditionally, both troops are combat arms units specialized in mounted operations, he said.
For this deployment, they trained in the use of Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicles and convoy security procedures, said 1st Sgt. Edward Schmerber, the senior noncommissioned officer with B Troop 2/107th Cav.
Schmerber said the transition was easy for Veterans of previous deployments and the Soldiers experienced in tactical vehicle movement operations.
"Weapons systems are the same, but the vehicles have changed," said Schmerber, a Cincinnati native. "We're still able to shoot, move and communicate."
Roughly half of the Soldiers with the 2/107th Cav. have been deployed at least once before, said Schmerber. Soldiers with overseas experience helped mentor the other Soldiers in the mission objectives they faced, said Schmerber.
The Soldiers always prepare for each mission and know all of the important information before they ever leave the gate, said Staff Sgt. Adam Boots, a truck commander and intelligence analyst with C Troop 2/107th Cav.
"We rehearse battle drills often," said Boots, a Cincinnati native. "We make sure every Soldier, from the lowest rank to top, knows everybody's job."
With this method, Soldiers are confident when they need to replace a Soldier who is injured or unable to perform his duties, Boots said.
Convoy security elements are just as important as the trucks that move supplies, said Boots. Without them, they risk losing the cargo, he said.
The 2/107th secures the convoys that move food, water, supplies, equipment and mail to the smaller locations, said Boots.
B and C troops regularly run security operations for the sustainment and retrograde materials that have been slated for movement, said Capt. Louis Longhenry, commander of B troop 2/107th Cav.
"With sustainment runs, we move supplies to people who need them," said Longhenry, a Cincinnati native. "Some of the smaller (contingency operating locations) rely on water and fuel we provide."
Longhenry said the redistribution of retrograde assets has become a primary mission with the reposturing of equipment and personnel.
B Troop 2/107th Cav. supported Operation Back to School, a series of humanitarian missions that started at Camp Taji in support of the rural Iraqi grade schools in the area, said Longhorn. They provided convoy security for the volunteers as they delivered school supplies, he said.
"We're helping the community and the country," said Longhenry.
Both troops have completed more than 800 missions and traveled to most of the major COLs in Iraq, he said. They ensure the safe transportation of supplies to their destination, said Funderburk.
After nine months in country, the 2/107th has suffered no loss of life, serious incidents or major injures while performing its missions, said Schmerber.
"They've done a remarkable job," said Schmerber. "Bottom line is that the mission was to come here and perform our duties, but ultimately bring home every Soldier."
Pfc. Blake Owens, a driver with B Troop, 2nd Squadron, 107th Cavalry Regiment, 155th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 155th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), and a Versailles, Ohio, native, dries the mirrors on a Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicle prior to a mission Jan. 20 at Camp Taji, Iraq.
(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Michel Camacho)