By Scott Prater
FORT CARSON, Colo. — Moving an armored brigade from its home post to a deployed environment is no small task. Just ask the Army Field Support Battalion-Carson (AFSBn) Installation Transportation Office (ITO) staff.
From Jan. 5-11, 2019, the ITO team worked around the clock at the Fort Carson rail yard to process more than 2,000 pieces of equipment on 823 rail cars, including Bradley Fighting Vehicles, M1 Abrams tanks, M109 Howitzers and numerous other vehicles in an effort to move the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, and its equipment, to a port in Corpus Christi, Texas.
The brigade is in the midst of deploying to the U.S. Central Command region in support of Operation Spartan Shield and is taking most of its equipment along.
“Normally, we can process one train (an average of 70 rail cars) a day,” said James Will, installation transportation division team chief. “With this effort; however, again — working around the clock — we managed to process two trains each day.”
Will explained that Soldiers and transportation teams loaded one train during the daylight hours, then took a break for several hours so rail crews could move empty cars around to the loading area. Once the empty rail cars were in place, transportation staff and 3rd ABCT Soldiers started loading the next train. Rail operations continued to run in that fashion for six straight days as transportation teams worked in shifts.
4th Infantry Division leaders were so impressed by the feat that Col. Michael J. Simmering, commander, 3rd ABCT, presented the AFSBn-Carson Transportation team with a certificate of achievement Jan. 28, 2019.
“I think this is the sixth time since Thanksgiving (2017) that the transportation team has moved us,” Simmering said, while presenting the award to Will and the ITO staff. “So, we wanted to take this opportunity to thank the entire transportation team. All of our battalion commanders, our brigade command sergeant major and myself signed the award.”
During the project, the team also processed 95 truckloads of the brigade’s equipment for a road haul to the Texas port.
While 3rd ABCT Soldiers were responsible for loading their equipment, transportation staff had to brace and block each vehicle as well as inspect and ensure documentation for each piece of equipment.
The project was so large, in fact, that Will had to request augmenters from Surface Deployment Distribution Support Team (DDST) to keep pace.
“We’ve had an incredibly busy year, with the high operations tempo here at Carson,” Will said. “But this was the first time we’ve conducted 24-7 operations and deployed a full ABCT in less than six days. We’re happy to be recognized. Other teams that provided assistance were AFSBN-C contractors, the DDST, the Expeditionary Railway Team, two Department of the Army civilians from Fort Hood, Texas, and three contractors from Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Together we were able to conduct 24-7 operations, safely and on time.”
Simmering said he was thankful the brigade and ITO staff managed to complete the project at the time because harsh winter weather hit Fort Carson and the surrounding area the following week. By then, the brigade’s trains were well on their way to Texas.
Though they are thankful to have received recognition, the ITO team doesn’t have much time to relax as the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Inf. Div., is in the process of redeploying.
“We’ll also begin work on moving the 32nd Transportation Company, (68th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 4th Sustainment Brigade, 4th Inf. Div.,) as it deploys in support of 3rd ABCT,” Will said.