Kentucky Soldiers Heading for Afghanistan

By Valerie Tandoi
Ft. Dix Public Affairs Office

Spc. Samantha Hammer holds the guidon for the 2123rd Transportation Company during the unit's farewell ceremony Feb. 3, held at the Madison County High School in Richmond, Ky. (U.S. Army Photo by Staff Sgt. Gina Vaile-Nelson, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

FORT DIX, N.J. (Feb. 5, 2010) – Wintery weather awaited Kentucky Army National Guard’s 2123rd Transportation Company as it arrived at Army Support Activity-Dix, Feb. 5, to train for an Operation Enduring Freedom deployment in Afghanistan.

The Soldiers of the organization, from Richmond, Ky., lined up at ASA-Dix’s Central Issue Facility to receive their Improved Outer Tactical Vests it will need to help perform its mission. OTVs are protective vests padded with Kevlar KM2 fiber which are issued to increase a Soldiers’ chance of survivability on the battlefield. The outer vest system comes in 11 different sizes to ensure Soldiers of all body types can be as comfortable as possible.

The 2123rd was being supervised by Sgt. 1st Class Scott Smithler, from Evansville, Ind., for the event that includes receiving equipment to survive in a hazardous duty area. The tight knit brigade remained focused on its upcoming operation and weren’t going to let a little cold and wet weather stand in their way.

“The snow slowed us down a little bit, but we’re back on track again. We are optimistic that we should be able to keep up with our training schedule,” said Smithler. The transportation company has already spent a month previously training for this mission at Wendell H. Ford Regional Training center in Greenville, Ky.

The squad will continue to train at ASA-Dix before heading off to Afghanistan where they will begin their task of shipping and transporting vital supplies. The remaining training that the command will face before deploying overseas will include Blue Force Tracking qualification, Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle training and familiarizing themselves with life support operations of an overseas Contingency Operating Base by using the ASA-Dix Contingency Operations Location.

Blue Force Tracking allows troops to pinpoint the location of both friendly forces and enemies while on a mission and track the most up-to-date information on the battlefield. MRAP training familiarizes soldiers with large scale armored fighting vehicles used to defend against Improvised Explosive Devices. The troops are given the opportunity to drive the vehicles, become acquainted with how the vehicles operate and experience simulation of what happens when the vehicles flip over.

The company consists of a mix of first time deploying Soldiers and others that have served multiple tours. “This will be my third deployment. I have already gone to Iraq twice,” Smithler said. Having troops that have deployed in the past on board helps to encourage and support those men and women who are getting ready to venture into a hostile location for the first time.

The mission to Afghanistan will be led by company commander Capt. John F. Moore from Elizabethtown, Ky.

About kentuckyguard