As the 49th Transportation Battalion (Movement Control) transitioned into a combat sustainment support battalion, it began to manage seven additional companies. Of the seven, one company was identified to support the command and control CBRN [chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear] response element (C2CRE) and one was tasked as part of the global response force (GRF).
The vision and directives of the late Brigadier General Terence J. Hildner, commanding general of the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) (ESC), indicated that training for the C2CRE and GRF missions would comply with the training and certification directives for both mission sets. Both the C2CRE and the GRF units would be ready to deploy without notice in response to activities deemed necessary by the Department of Defense.
Each company had to accomplish specified training requirements according to its mission set (C2CRE or GRF). The battalion operations officer worked with the company commanders to develop initial training plans. Once approved by the battalion commander, the training was put into the Digital Training Management System (DTMS) and the battalion S–3 worked with the brigade, ESC, and corps staffs to ensure that the units’ training received priority and was resourced.
The training was conducted over 90 days. During this time, the 49th Transportation Battalion led a series of alerts to focus the unit on back-to-basic operations and to prepare the C2CRE and GRF companies for activation. Training progress was reviewed weekly and reported to the Army Forces Command through the brigade, ESC, and corps.
The battalion developed an alert notification sequence (N-hour sequence) and incorporated it into the battalion’s tactical standard operating procedures (TACSOP). The alerts were unannounced, and each required more from the Soldiers than the previous alert had.
The N-hour sequence focused on company- and battalion-level activities conducted within the first 12 to 24 hours after being alerted. According to the battalion TACSOP, Soldiers were required to report with their deployment bags and in complete combat uniform within 2 hours of notification. Upon arriving, the Soldiers reported to their companies, drew weapons, and immediately continued to their designated areas as platoon leaders directed.
To prepare their vehicles for convoy, drivers conducted preventive maintenance checks and services (PMCS) and initiated alert dispatches. Once the PMCS were complete, first-line supervisors conducted precombat checks and inspections. Each platoon leader then verified that his platoon was ready, and the platoon rolled out of the motorpool while being evaluated by a battalion staff team. Staff members were also staged at a designated location to receive the platoon and verify its dispatches and PMCS. The staff also verified the sub-hand receipts of the platoon leader and evaluated each platoon on its core mission.
The battalion’s headquarters and headquarters detachment also went through alert procedures. To monitor the entire process and ensure the units were in compliance with the TACSOP, the staff established a fusion cell led by the battalion executive officer. Members of the staff were at designated locations to monitor company activities and collect feedback that would later be provided to the battalion and company commanders during after-action reviews.
The battle captain and noncommissioned officer consolidated and issued orders and ensured that the battalion remained on schedule. At the end of the 2-hour recall, the primary staff and company commanders met with the battalion commander to identify issues and receive additional guidance. After-action reviews were conducted after each alert with the battalion staff and company command teams.
Soon after N-hour sequence training, each company was tested on its ability to deploy, establish an area of operations, exercise mission command, and conduct its assigned mission. The company assigned as the C2CRE participated in an exercise in Indiana, and the company assigned to the GRF mission participated in an exercise at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California.
Before deploying, each company was certified to deploy through the battalion’s notification process. Both units completed the required training and were ready to assume their missions on time. Each company deployed with minimal issues and collected several lessons learned, many centering on agencies and activities outside of battalion and company control. Nonetheless, each company was trained and certified using the directed training requirements in support of national security and performed well.