BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (March 24, 2015) – Army Field Support Battalion-Afghanistan, or AFSBn-AFG, is in the early stages of a mission that will result in 94 mine-resistant, ambush-protected, or MRAP recovery vehicles being available to support future coalition missions.
The battalion received an order from Department of Army G-4 directing them to notify U.S. Forces Afghanistan of how many MRAP recovery vehicles, or MRVs, were available to support this mission as well as the condition of the vehicles.
“Fourth RSSB [Resolute Support Sustainment Brigade] asked the battalion to tell them how many vehicles we could find that were not matched to a requirement,” said Daniel Benz, AFSBn-AFG support operations. “We found 94 vehicles. Since we’re tasked to send them to Kuwait for staging, we’ve been calling the mission ‘Kuwait 94’.”
“They are stripped-down and shipped as-is,” said Mark Grant, AFSBn-AFG support operations. “The only work done is to ensure that they were air worthy for the flight to Kuwait.”
Grant said the stripped-down condition meant the vehicles were in the most basic configuration without any communications or other government furnished equipment.
The battalion received an order to begin assembling the vehicles in mid-February and the first ones were loaded onto aircraft March 4.
Grant said some vehicles were sourced in Kandahar at the battalion’s logistics task force, but most will be coming from Bagram. There needed to be an even number of trucks so the aircraft would be fully utilized, he said.
Actual driving – really backing – the vehicles onto the aircraft fell to Soldiers identified as ‘over the horizon’ drivers. These Soldiers are assigned to the 21st Inland Cargo Transfer Co. from Joint Base Lewis-McChord or the 32nd Transportation Co. from Fort Carson, Colorado. They originally deployed to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, with the 529th Combat Support Sustainment Battalion, a Virginia National Guard unit.
When AFSBn-AFG identified a capability gap for experienced military drivers, these Soldiers answered the call with some deployed to Bagram and some deployed to Kandahar.
“Our team was put together because we are the best of the best,” said Staff Sgt. Alan Alcaraz, an 88 H cargo specialist from Ewa Beach, Hawaii. “Our exact mission is to help battalion with driving all the vehicles on to the aircraft. Basically any type of rolling stock we drive on to the flight line and then on to the plane.”
“Backing a MRV onto a plane is hard,” Carrillo said. “Actually, more like very interesting.”
Carrillo and Brown had to rely on each other to act as ground guides and help ensure they were correctly aligned with the aircraft.
“The best part of my job is driving all the different kinds of vehicles the Army provides,” Brown said.
Their training and skills paid off as they both successfully backed a 34-foot-long, 52,000-pound vehicle onto an aircraft on the first try.
Alcazar said the team consists of experienced material handling equipment operators and truck drivers, who were selected because they are all ‘go-getters,’ who make up a self-sufficient team who can ‘make anything happen and … don’t take “no” for an answer.’
He also said many of the Soldiers have multiple deployments. In addition to the flightline duties, the Soldiers have been operating material handling equipment, driving other vehicles for battalion missions and acting as additional security for missions to title transfer equipment to Afghan National Defense Security Forces.