Support group gears up for deployment

Published 5:00 am Monday, October 11, 2004

CAMP SHELBY – Members of the 106th Forward Support Battalion areexpected to begin training at the National Training Center at FortIrwin, Calif., in a few weeks.

The unit, based in Monticello, arrived at Camp Shelby inmid-August to begin post-mobilization training in preparation fordeployment to Iraq. The trip to NTC will step up that training,according to Maj. Craig Weaver, executive officer of the unit.

“We’re probably 85 to 90 percent through with our training,” hesaid. “The NTC is the culmination of that training.”

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Sgt. Brandie Rayburn, administrative noncommissioned officer,said when the unit first arrived they trained on perimeter securityby establishing watches and guard posts at their encampment. Allarrivals had to produce identification or were turned away.

Since then, the unit has worked in other areas of field trainingand practiced basic soldiering skills, such as marksmanship,infantry tactics and navigation, said Sgt. Burnell Swilley ofHazlehurst.

The unit’s main training focus is centered around convoytactics, which includes responding to an attack or ambush, Rayburnsaid.

“The soldiers are doing well,” Weaver said. “They’re wellprepared to execute when we get there. Everyone is in high spirits,they want to learn and they are ready to learn. We’re ready to getthere and get it done.”

Just because the unit is practicing generalized soldieringskills does not mean they are not emphasizing mission-relatedskills, said Spc. Marcie Davis, a cook from Silver Creek.

Davis, Swilley and Sgt. Torrance Thomas of Silver Creek werebusy Thursday practicing to set up a preparing a mobile kitchentrailer, or MKT, to provide hot meals for the unit after it’sdeployed.

The small delegation of 106th cooks will be preparing meals forapproximately 400-500 soldiers during training at the NTC.

“We’ve done it before, and even served more soldiers, but we hadmore help,” Swilley said. “It’ll be pretty rough this time.”

SFC Frank Braxton, the noncommissioned officer in charge of thecook section, said he doesn’t foresee any lasting problems.

“Hopefully, it will go smooth,” he said. “It all depends on therationing of the food we draw. We’ve done it before.”

In the few weeks before the unit deploys to the NTC, Braxtonsaid the cooks section will receive refresher courses on the MKTand also a course on new equipment found there.

Cooks generally serve two hot meals a day during active trainingand when deployed, Braxton said. Soldiers generally eat the Meals,Ready-To-Eat, or MREs, for the mid-day meal.

The predeployment training is reinforcing military discipline onthe soldiers and is having a positive effect on preparing thememotionally for what they will see when they arrive in Iraq,Rayburn said.

“Right now we’re still in that scared frame of mind, but we’reconfident and ready to go,” she said.

The unit will host a Family Day for relatives of the soldiers onOct. 17 at Camp Shelby’s Lake Walker, Rayburn said. It may be theirlast chance to meet with relatives before the unit deploys to theNTC and possibly to Iraq.