FORT HOOD, Texas -- The 249th Transportation Company, 372nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion of the Texas Army National Guard set a new National Guard record as of June 2018 during their annual training.
"As it stands right now, no sustainment unit has qualified 32 gun crews in the National Guard," said Capt. Aaron Sanders, commander of the 249th Transportation Company, out of Killeen, Texas. "We started the training in January moving through the process up to our blank fire exercises in February."
These 32 vehicle-mounted crew-served weapon crews are part of larger changes in the U.S. Army and the missions for each type of unit creating new training requirements for transportation units.
"Under the U.S. Army's new modular system, a combat arms unit will no longer be allocated to provide convoy security to logistics convoys," explained Sanders. "So the new unit requirements allot for logistics and sustainment units to be given their own crew-served weapons to provide their own security on convoys. This means that my 39 gun crews in my two transportation platoons will provide their own convoy security as they move people, containers and equipment from point A to point B."
The three-person crews completed their next two levels of exercises during their March, April and May drill weekends. These blocks of training consisted of day and night fire missions with live ammunition.
"These crews have been putting in extra drill days and our annual training is 21 days this year when normally it's only 15 days," said 1st Sgt. Jason Coates, first sergeant of the 249th "Road Hogs" Transportation Company. "They've had to do a lot of work, and training in things they have never done before. These Soldiers have gone from zero: never doing anything like this, to qualified gun crews in under six months."
The sixth block of training is the qualification level. The minimum score to qualify is 700 points. A score over 800 is "Superior" and a score over 900 is "Distinguished." By June 22, the company had qualified 32 mounted gun crews and set a new record in the National Guard.
"For a bunch of the crews, day fire was really hard but we all still qualified," said Private 1st Class Daniel Hughes, a gun crew gunner in the 249th Trans. Co. "However, my gun crew specifically rocked the night fire. I love being on a gun crew and I love doing this kind of training."
In February, the 249th was officially identified as a focused readiness unit and given a deadline of the end of June 2018 to meet the readiness standard. An FRU is a National Guard unit that has been placed at a higher state of readiness and will have a shorter time on the mobilization platform when called up. The unit must maintain this higher readiness level and status so that if called upon, the unit can mobilize and be deployed within 30 days.