‘Longknife’ Squadron keeps range operations ticking
Pfc. Luis Garcia, Co. E, 1st Bn., 63rd Armor Regt., counts 25-millimeter ammunition Aug. 9 at Fort Riley’s Douthit Multi-Purpose Range Complex. Photo by: Sgt. Daniel Stoutamire, 2ND HBCT.
Story by: Sgt. Daniel Stoutamire
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These days, if someone listens closely, he or she can hear the boom of heavy weapons like Abrams tanks or Paladin howitzers and the lower, but more consistent purr of crew-served automatic weapons as 1st Infantry Division vehicle crews hone their skills to ready themselves for contingency operations worldwide.
Supporting those crews – ensuring they are fed and have properly functioning vehicles with sufficient fuel and ammunition – are forward support companies, logistical elements with supply expertise and capabilities attached to maneuver units.
Throughout August, as Soldiers with the 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team conduct vehicle gunnery tables at the Douthit Multi-Purpose Range Complex, the forward support company on call is Troop D, 5th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd HBCT.
"Our mission out here, as well as in the real-world deployed environment, is to provide continuous resupply of ammunition, fuel and other logistics to the squadron," said Sgt. 1st Class Douglas Tolliver, platoon sergeant, Distribution Platoon, Troop D, 5th Sqdn., 4th Cav. Regt.
Troop D's Soldiers work simultaneously in several major lanes at the same time. Ammunition, fuel, vehicle maintenance and food service are at the heart of some of their most important duties and can present challenges when the population staying at the Multi-Purpose Range Complex reaches several hundred Soldiers.
"You've got to coordinate (with Fort Riley) about how many personnel you have on the ground, feed them daily because there's certain nutrient requirements we have to meet," said Sgt. Scott Brownrigg, acting dining facility noncommissioned officer in charge at the complex.
Brownrigg said he relishes the opportunity to make Soldiers, who might be away from the comforts of home for about a month, feel just a little bit better.
"It makes it a little more bearable, to come in here, suck up some A/C, a cold beverage or coffee in the morning and get some hot chow in your belly," he said.
While making sure Soldiers have sufficient fuel in their bodies for a long day at the range may be crucial, so is ensuring that the vehicles Soldiers depend upon have enough fuel. This task falls to the five Soldiers and two NCOs with Troop D's fuel section.
"We start off around 5 a.m. and come out (to the motor pool), and trucks start coming through shortly thereafter," said Sgt. Mark Penuelaz, fuel NCO, Troop D, 5th Sqdn., 4th Cav. Regt. "Also, we make a couple trips daily to both of the ranges where gunnery is going on now."
Once both operators and vehicles are fully fueled and ready to go, their final stop before heading to the range and firing at targets is the ammunition point.
"This range could not run without the ammo," Tolliver said. "Daily, our guys come out and issue ammunition to the vehicle crews, who then go out and fire and return with the residue. Our guys keep the paperwork and make sure all the ammunition is transported and stored safely and documented in the proper manner."