Soldiers Across State Make Long Haul for Special Training PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Pfc. Allison Lampe, 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team   
Tuesday, 10 July 2012 11:20

CAMP RIPLEY, MINN. (07/10/2012)(readMedia)-- Soldiers with the Illinois Army National Guard's 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) in Urbana traveled to Camp Ripley, Minn., this week by bus, plane and convoy for the eXportable Combat Training Capability (XCTC) program as a part of their annual training.

The training this year is an especially large endeavor, lasting three weeks instead of the usual two. The XCTC program aims to provide the most up-to-date and realistic training available to units preparing to deploy.

Although the 33rd IBCT's scheduled deployment for next year was canceled, the XCTC program is still a unique opportunity for Soldiers to keep their skills sharp and ensure they are indeed "Always Ready."

The 33rd IBCT, consisting of approximately 2,350 Soldiers from 30 companies from Machesney Park to Marion, ensured all Soldiers, vehicles and equipment arrived safely.

Chief Warrant Officer (2) Kenneth Morris of Mahomet, with Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC), 33rd IBCT, was responsible for organizing the 597 vehicles and 209 trailers required for the training.

Morris began preparation for the long haul as early as March, directing members of the 2nd Squadron, 106th Cavalry Regiment in Kewanee driving convoys to Fort McCoy, Wis., for drill weekend and bussing them back. They repeated that process in April. Overall, units pre-positioned 177 vehicles and trailers over drill weekends.

Morris also used the Maneuver Area Training Equipment Site on Camp Ripley to borrow 179 vehicles and 25 trailers.

From there, a combined 157 vehicles and trailers were brought on semi trailers and 223 were driven in convoys.

Most convoys were broken into a two-day trek, but some of the southernmost units required three days to complete the trip. The convoys were the most time consuming mode of transportation due to the multiple stops needed to keep the vehicles from overheating.

Maj. Friedrich Josellis of Macomb, communication officer for the 33rd IBCT, was the officer in charge of Headquarters and Headquarters Company 33rd IBCT convoy that began July 5. He said the temperature was the biggest obstacle, which was 104 degrees on the first day of the convoy.

It became a hazard, not only to the vehicles, but to the Soldiers as well. Soldier care was critical, said Josellis, because of the high risk of heat injury and dehydration.

"Soldiers did extraordinarily well given the trying conditions in terms of staying healthy and keeping the vehicles running," said Josellis. "The Soldiers (conducted) preventative maintenance checks and services on the vehicles every stop. Thanks to that we didn't lose any vehicles because of anything the Soldiers did."

In addition to the Soldiers traveling by convoy, there were more than 1,000 transported on commercial buses and more than 450 by airplane on C-130s with the Illinois Air National Guard's 182nd Airlift Wing in Peoria, Ill.

All Soldiers arrived to Camp Ripley, Minn., July 8.

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