Soldiers practice water purification skills for battleground at Fort Bliss
By DAVID BURGE | The El Paso Times (Tribune News Service) | Published: March 2, 2017
Water is essential for life, but can be a rare commodity on the battlefield.
“In a combat environment, one day without water can be lethal,” said 2nd Lt. Joshua Kent, platoon leader for Water Platoon with the 504th Composite Supply Company.
About a dozen soldiers from the company with the 142nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion recently spent about 10 days practicing their water purification skills out in the Fort Bliss training area.
“Our company and platoon are an asset to the (1st Armored) division and definitely can support all the troops necessary with water,” said Kent, from Columbus, Ga.
As part of the exercise, soldiers took classes from a mobile training team of contractors from Fort Story, Va. These classes, held out in the field, were designed to bring soldiers up to date with the latest tactics, techniques and procedures in water purification, said 1st Sgt. Dennis Lee, the senior enlisted soldier for the 504th Composite Supply Company.
Participating soldiers tested a source of water for sediment and other contaminants, set up their water purification equipment and ran the water through two types of equipment that use filters.
They produced nearly 4,000 gallons of water during the exercise, but there were some minor issues that kept it from being drinkable, Kent said. The soldiers will continue to train and work to perfect these skills, he added.
“Our job is to deploy anywhere and purify any water source so we can support our fellow troops,” Kent said.
Kent said that his soldiers got an “enhanced sense” of how to use the purification equipment.
“Some people hadn’t touched the equipment in a while,” Kent said. “They got a good refresher and were able to bring that knowledge back to the company to teach others.”
Lee, from Chicago, agreed that the training exercise was designed to be a refresher course on the crucial skill of water purification. The participating soldiers also got to practice important tactical skills, such as setting up perimeter security, establishing fighting positions and conducting guard patrols, Lee added.
Staff Sgt. Terry Peagler, from Pensacola, Fla., is the platoon sergeant for Water Platoon.
Peagler said the training event helped the unit come together as a team and also helped to showcase an important skill that many associated with the Army don’t know about.
“It was really good training out there,” Peagler said. “It allowed the junior NCOs an opportunity to work with their soldiers and gave them hands-on experience with the equipment.”
Pvt. DulceMaria Reina, from Boston, is normally a petroleum specialist with Fuel Platoon with the 504th Composite Supply Company but participated in the water purification exercise to cross-train and learn another skill.
“I didn’t think that much about water before,” Reina said. “As I was going through the training, I saw that if we were stationed someplace where we had to take water of out a river and didn’t know what was upstream, we have to make sure that water is drinkable for the platoons that are stationed there.”
First Sgt. Eric Horne, the acting command sergeant major for the 142nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, said the training "gives the soldiers an opportunity to expand their skills and be the subject matter experts for water purification."
"Training is important to ensure we can support future operations that will require an expeditionary mind-set," said Horne, from Lilesville, N.C. "It allows soldiers to be proficient in their crafts and to ensure the equipment is functioning properly."
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