CANADIAN FORCES BASE PETAWAWA, Ontario - Soldiers from the Pennsylvania Army National Guard’s 131st Transportation Company, transported Canadian Army vehicles from Petawawa, Ont., to Toronto as part of Steadfast Warrior, a training exercise between the Pennsylvania Guard and the Canadian Army’s 32nd Canadian Brigade Group.
"I know in theatre we do a lot of blended operations," said Canadian Army Capt. Jacquie Field, a logistics officer with the 32nd CBG, and a Sudbury, Ontario native. "For the central region, or where we are from, I don’t know that we have ever had Americans lift-stuff for us before. So, to me that was an inaugural kind of thing."
But for many of the Soldiers of the 131st Trans. Co., transporting the trucks was business as usual, said Army Sgt. Jorge Aviles, a team leader with the unit.
"The 131st is often tasked to transport large equipment like Humvees and Bradleys across Pennsylvania that made this mission very similar," he said. On arrival to Petawawa the 131st Trans. Co. trucks carried equipment for the Pennsylvania Army Guard Soldiers training with Canadians.
The preparation not only for the movement to Canada, but to get clearance for the trucks to move to Toronto needed approval not only through the American side, but the Canadian side too, said Field.
Field said she worked through her higher headquarters and alerted all the individuals needed to help support the movement.
"Then it was dealing with people repairing our vehicles to make sure that they were ready to lift," she said. "And, then when that kind of stuff was taken care of, [the Pennsylvania Army Guard] did their business and we stayed out of the way."
Securing the Canadian Army’s Light Support Vehicle Wheeled to the trailers they would be transported on gave newer members of the unit a chance to gain experience with different vehicles, said Aviles.
"There are a few different ways to chain equipment down to a trailer," he said.
But, no matter the vehicle being chained down, there are common techniques that Aviles stressed to his Soldiers.
"I prefer to harness the vehicle by its axle to eliminate the chance that the vehicle will bounce or move and loosen the chain," he said, explaining one of those techniques.
For Staff Sgt. Kelly Eitreim, acting convoy commander for the Toronto mission and a squad leader with the 131st Trans. Co., the mission’s success was based on the time element too. Arriving in Toronto on Sunday evening and leaving before rush hour prevented the trucks from getting bogged down in traffic.
The Soldiers arrived back at Petawawa from Toronto in under six-hours, and received high praise from their Canadian counterparts.
"They are consummate professionals, very positive and energetic,’" said Field. "You can tell that they are specialists in their field. I believe 28 minutes is what…it took to unload their trucks."
With their trucks unloaded and more work to be done back in the States, the Soldiers from the 131st Trans. Co. boarded their trucks and made the journey back to the United States set to return to collect the equipment upon completion of the exercise.