Fort Pickett, Virginia –
Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Emporia-based 1710th Transportation Company, 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group, helped unload and receive 48 brand new flatbed trailers August 18, 2020, at Fort Pickett, Virginia.
With the help of a crane and a team of specialized civilian contractors from Tank Automotive Command in Warren, Michigan, the Soldiers assisted in the unstacking and movement of 48 new M872A4 40-foot, 34-ton flatbed semitrailers.
“The trailers are brand new,” said Staff Sgt. Paul Acker, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the detail. “They will be inventoried this week, we will make sure that everything is there and we will sign for them next week.”
When Army National Guard units are issued new equipment it is an extensive process to coordinate getting it in the hands of the units, especially with an equipment hand-off as large as nearly 50 flatbed semitrailers, according to 1st Lt. Matthew Arnold, who works in the operations section for New Equipment Training/New Equipment Fielding at Maneuver Training Center Fort Pickett.
“About a year ago we had a new materials in-brief, which in this case involved the program manager from Tank Automotive Command, the National Guard Bureau Systems Integrator, as well as the State Force Management section and the unit representatives,” said Arnold. “We went through a detailed plan, adjusted drastically for COVID and changed it from a two phase operation to a one phase operation.”
The responsibilities of NET/NEF include coordinating shipping, receiving and temporary storage of equipment that is used for fielding and equipment upgrades, as well as working with program managers to ensure that new equipment training is provided to receiving units.
They deal with everything from small arms to generators to 40-foot trailers. For Arnold, who is also a scout platoon leader for the Virginia Beach-based Alpha Troop, 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, seeing this NET/NEF mission through to completion has many rewards.
“We get to increase the units capabilities,” he said. “Currently, I think they have 30 or so 30-foot trailers. The larger trailers will help them support whatever mission set they need to do.”
Being able to travel long distances is part of the mission for the 1710th Transportation Company.
“Having good equipment is a tremendous help,” said Acker. “An important part of being an 88M (motor transport operator) is inspecting your equipment as much as you can. If you have a trailer or truck that is not operational, then your mission is pretty well shot. Being a line haul company, a lot of times we are going long distances.”
The new trailers are a welcome addition and are certain to become a highly-utilized asset.
“This will help us accomplish our mission by being able to haul equipment to units or other states,” he said. “It will also help us greatly during times of State Active Duty emergencies.”
Many hands and a great deal of time and energy go into bringing new and updated gear to National Guard units.
“It’s been a real pleasure to work with the program manager team and we appreciate all of their efforts,” Arnold said. “The Soldiers here are from the unit and are working hands-on with the program managers. They are learning these trailers inside and out, which is pretty awesome to see.”