April 12th, 2007 03:53 EST
Attention to detail saves Soldiers’ lives
BAQUBAH — Before the sun rises on Forward Operating Base Warhorse in Baqubah, Iraq, a small group of Soldiers are up and working. These Soldiers get more accomplished in their day of work before most wake-up.
Performing maintenance checks on vehicles, looking for the slightest detail that could put a mission in jeopardy, and inventorying Soldiers’ personal equipment are all a part of a days work for these Soldiers from Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 215th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, at the Combat Logistics Patrol Point.
Vehicles staged at the CLPP are for supply runs, usually for distributing fuel and other items to surrounding FOBs. The CLPP is used for Soldiers in the convoy who head out to pick up materials to bring back to the FOB as well.
These Soldiers take pride in their work. They know they are the last line of safety checks before the convoys they are entrusted to inspect roll outside the wire. And they have yet to fail at their mission.
“[Our job] is important because it gives a chance to take a look at all the vehicles and all the personnel and make sure everything is ready to leave the FOB,” said Master Sgt. Anthony Adams, the leader of the CLPP.
“We don’t want anybody to go out with maintenance issues or any minor problems that we could have fixed before they leave,” he continued. “Stuff always is found and needs to be fixed.”
Adams, who is jokingly known as the “CLPP Master,” said it’s his goal to make sure the Soldiers heading out of a convoy from his lanes are fully prepared for anything they might encounter or see.
“We make sure these guys leaving out get a well-rehearsed briefing instead of a short one,” Adams said. “We go over everything from battle drills to roll-over drills. We want these guys to be prepared for anything they might see out there.”
This system of checks after checks is a new idea, according to Adams. Though, extremely tedious, it has yet to fail them.
“I think this is something new that we only do,” he said. “I’m sure other units do something like this, but not to the extent or extreme that we do this. We are over protective, but for good reasons. We haven’t had any problems with our guys going out yet.”
The day prior to a mission is where the system begins. Adams’ unit presents the departure time while the manifest begins to be filled.
“Our unit gives a time for movement and the companies figure out the manifest for the CLPP,” said Adams. “The platoon sergeants [for the Soldiers traveling] will do the initial [checks] on their Soldiers and their vehicles, making sure everyone has what they need and their vehicles are ready to roll.”
“The day prior [to movement], the vehicles that are moving out get delivered here to be spot-checked of all the equipment,” he said.
At that time, Staff Sgt. John Mast, also know as the “Load Master,” begins the routine maintenance checks to confirm if the vehicles present are fit for travel or if they need extra repairs to be made.
“My job is to conduct a [Quality Assurance, Quality Control] check on the maintenance guys,” said Mast, a native of New London, Wis.
“I go behind to check to make sure the trucks are being properly maintained before they roll out,” he said. “The vehicles come up here [to the CLPP] and I check them for any extra maintenance issues.
“I do a few things that can be fixed right away, like tighten up battery clamps or refill tires,” Mast added. “After I’m finished looking at the vehicle, the drivers will stage them and get ready for the next day’s movement.”
“In the morning, I look over the vehicles again to make sure nothing else has changed overnight,” he said. “We’ve had no issues outside the wire yet. With our efforts, it cuts down on recovery and recovery missions that have to go out because of maintenance issues. This helps save lives; it really helps out a lot.”
While Mast is conducting his morning checks on the vehicles to find any extra problems, the Soldiers moving out from the CLPP are straightening their personal equipment on stands, ready to be inspected. They then move to a tent to receive a briefing on the day’s mission, what they might encounter and any other possible issues the Soldiers might need to know about the roads they are traveling.
“The Soldiers will move into a tent to conduct rehearsals while the Load Master comes down to check to make sure everything is loaded correctly and tied down properly,” said Adams.
Radio and weapons checks also take place to make sure every Soldier can communicate and their weapons are ready to be fired if needed, he continued.
“After the brief, the Soldiers will load into their vehicles and stage up in proper vehicle order, ready to go,” Adams said.
The vehicles and Soldiers have been through test after test, making sure everything is right. Though the CLPP can be a draining and tedious experience, Adams said he is proud of the system’s flawless record.
“This is definitely a good system we have set up here. We haven’t had any problems or any serious maintenance issues since we’ve been doing this,” Adams proudly admits, but quietly knocks his fist on a wooden desk.
“We have caught things on the line before,” he continued. “All vehicles are supposed to go through a maintenance check, so we mostly do a QAQC check on those [initial checks].
“We are more like a second pair of eyes on everything,” he said. “With these checks, we’re not finding as many problems as we did before.”
“It’s very important that we go through all these checks,” Mast agreed. “I’ve found trucks on the line that if we’d hadn’t caught them, they would have broken down out on the mission. I think it’s really important, a real high priority for the success of the mission.”
Mast believes if other units took note of the efforts the Soldiers at the CLPP were making, many problems they might be facing could be resolved before the vehicles ever left the FOB.
“I think our procedures would help out a lot of units,” said Mast. “A lot of units might not have the man power to do this quite the way we are, but I think a mirror image of us would be good for a lot of units. If everybody did a lot of the stuff that we’re doing, it would cut down on a lot of lost time from recovery missions and other missions that could cost lives.”
By Spc. Ryan Stroud
3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs