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Transportation company provides supplies
Spc. Michael Houck, a gunner with the 109th Transportation Company, checks the weapon on his turret as they conduct inspection on their vehicle. Houck’s company is part of the 17th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 101st Sustainment Brigade, and has logged more than 600,000 miles in Afghanistan. (U.S. Army photo/Sgt. 1st Class Pete Mayes)
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Transportation company provides supplies

Posted 2/28/2011   Updated 2/28/2011 Email story   Print story


by Sgt. 1st Class Pete Mayes
101st Airborne Division

2/28/2011 - BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan  -- Driving the roads here in Afghanistan is quite a different experience from Iraq, according to Sgt. 1st Class Kelvin Windham and Army Staff Sgt. Davis Miranda of the 109th Transportation Company, 17th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 3rd Maneuver Enhancement Brigade.

"There are a lot of unimproved roads here, and the elevation is different," Windham said. "You're literally going up the side of a mountain with a lot of the routes we traverse ... no guardrails or anything, so these drivers have to be very proficient in their skills. Any mistake out here is not forgivable."

Yet their drivers constantly brave the dangerous and unforgiving terrain to ensure Soldiers located in remote combat outposts in Afghanistan's Regional Command East and Regional Command North get the supplies they need to conduct their missions.
Since arriving in July 2010, drivers with 109th Trans., have logged more than 600,000 miles - more than any other truck company in the 17th CSSB.

Windham, the company truck master, said Soldiers must go through six separate battle spaces to provide escort support and deliver much-needed supplies to various outposts.
The mission is anything but easy, he said.

Along with terrain, Afghanistan weather conditions also figure prominently in transporting goods and services.

"Sometimes it can take us 18 hours or longer (due to weather) just to travel 100 miles," Windhman said. "Back in the states, 100 miles would take a little over one hour."
Miranda, a squad leader with the 109th Trans., said driving the terrain in Afghanistan is like taking a step back in time.

"(It's like) the roads are from the Biblical times," he said.

"We're struggling, trying to drive up these steep hills and the people who live on them (are) herding their animals and walking up them like it's nothing," Windham said.

Despite the challenges on their most recent mission, the company ensured remotely-stationed Soldiers got what they needed.

Miranda said the company continually trains on their equipment to ensure they can meet their mission's goals.

"When we come back from a mission, it's critical that we reset and rehearse our battle drills and train on our equipment," he said. "We have been battle-tested out here, and the battle drills helped to minimize damage to our equipment and Soldiers," Miranda continued. "It's definitely paid off."

Miranda gave credit to his Soldiers for their success.

"The caliber of Soldiers we have in this battalion is a blessing," he said.

Windham said one of the things he's witnessed as a truck master is the reaction of the Afghan people to the Soldiers.

"We get to travel through a lot of battles spaces, and many of the villagers are giving us the 'thumbs-up,'" Windham said.

"Everyone here is not the enemy. I think it's good that we get to see that," he said.

(Editor's note: the 17th CSSB is part of the 3rd Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, based at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. They are assigned to the 101st Sustainment Brigade during their deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.)

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