By Spc. Michael Gault
CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait (11/5/12) - Transportation soldiers from the Kuwaiti National Guard and the 1462nd Transportation Company, a Michigan Army National Guard unit, joined together in a combined convoy exercise Oct. 22 - 24.
Throughout the long-standing relationship between the nations of Kuwait and the United States, never has there been an exercise fostering a partnership that involved transportation companies from each nation.
Every Tuesday over the last month, Kuwait and U.S. Soldiers exchanged knowledge and information on how they conducted convoy operations. Visiting each others’ base, S oldiers gave briefings and hands-on driving experience, bridging an understanding of the two forces methods of operations. Later, what they gained from the partnership would be put to practice in the combined convoy exercise.
Part of strengthening any good relationship is learning how to work and play together. On the final Tuesday prior to the convoy exercise, the 1462nd TC invited the KNG to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait for the first ever KNG-U.S. Truck Rodeo. A friendly driving competition, the truck rodeo, was set up so the U.S. and Kuwaiti Soldiers would each drive the other’s vehicles, and, in teams, would be timed to negotiate several driving challenges.
“The events [leading to] this exercise were designed to maximize the opportunities for the KNG to participate with our soldiers, fostering a stronger working relationship between our two forces.” said 1st Lt. Timothy Washburn, operations officer for the 191st Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, resident of Draper, Utah.
For the final exercise, both the KNG and U.S. Soldiers found themselves on a convoy driving lane at Camp Buehring. There, together as one, they would conduct a combined tactical convoy operation utilizing both American and Kuwaiti military vehicles and personnel. Overcoming challenges common to today’s military convoys , together, they faced outside vehicles disrupting the convoy, civilian protesters assaulting with rocks, choke point ambushes, obstacles on the convoy route, and a IED attack.
With a loud bang, the simulator for the improvised explosive device went off and members of the Kuwait National Guard and U.S. Army were quick to react. Mine- resistant ambush-protected gun trucks, crewed by U.S. Soldiers, moved into position to establish a perimeter around the Kuwaiti 5-ton cargo truck which was now deemed damaged by the attack. Behind their .50-caiber machine guns, the gunners mounted on the gun trucks scanned their sectors of fire as the recovery team, crewed by the KNG, moved in for the extraction. With a tow bar, the recovery team quickly connects the vehicle to their own and in minutes the downed vehicle is in tow behind them allowing the rest of the convoy to continue.
“I am very satisfied,” said 1st Lt. Khaled Ali Taresh, a transportation officer for the Kuwaiti National Guard who participated in the event, “It felt so life like and much more than what I had expected.”
With the experience gained working together on this partnership exercise, the Kuwaiti and U.S. forces have made tremendous strides in gaining an understanding for how the other operates during various phases involved in convoy operations.
After the exercise, plenty of awards were handed out. But beyond the handshakes and smiles, there was now camaraderie.
Soon the 1462nd will be returning back to the States. Their deployment is coming to an end, but this will remain a memorable event. “We made friends with them,” said Howell, Mich., resident Sgt. Brande Oates, a mechanic/driver for the 1462nd. “We had a blast trucking together.”"Hopefully in the future we will conduct more exercises,” said 1st. Lt. Khalid Ali Taresh, an officer for the Kuwait National Guard who participated in the event. “The way we do business and the way they [the U.S.] do business gives us both more experience."