National Guard tanks take the train from Fort Bragg to California training center

Teams of North Carolina National Guard Soldiers from the 113th Sustainment Brigade and 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team prepare and load armored vehicles for cross-country rail transport to Fort Irwin, Calif., for the ABCT's annual training deployment this summer at Fort Bragg, N.C., June 1, 2019.


By STEVE DEVANE | The Fayetteville Observer, N.C. | Published: June 7, 2019

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (Tribune News Service) — When the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team arrives in California for training later this month, its tanks and other vehicles will be there waiting for them.

Soldiers from the North Carolina National Guard unit loaded about 250 M1-A1 Abrams tanks and M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles and about 900 other vehicles onto railroad cars at Fort Bragg for the trip to the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California. They started loading the vehicles May 20 and are scheduled to finish Wednesday, said Capt. Barrett Foster, assistant operations officer for the 30th.

The train trip will end at a Marine Corps Logistics Base in Yermo, California. Most vehicles will be driven to Fort Irwin from there, but the heavy equipment will be taken on commercial trucks, Foster said.

In addition to the tanks and fighting vehicles, equipment being loaded onto rail cars this week included one meant to clear obstacles and landmines and another that can tow a tank. Contractors were making sure the equipment was property secured to the railroad cars.

Foster said the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team, which is known as "Old Hickory" after President Andrew Jackson, will hold a "force on force" training exercise using a weapon simulation system. The troops also will hold a live-fire exercise, hitting targets that look like vehicles, he said.

Getting ready for a rotation at the National Training Center is a logistical challenge, Foster said. In all, about 5,200 troops and about 1,600 vehicles will be there for the training, he said.

"It's a complicated exercise in management," he said.

The 30th has seven battalions and more than 4,200 soldiers. It is based in Clinton and has units in North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina and West Virginia. Similar loading operations are happening in Virginia, Ohio and South Carolina, Foster said.

The equipment was prepared for the cross country trip at the National Guard's Maneuver Area Training Equipment Site at Fort Bragg. It was loaded onto trucks and taken to the post's railhead near Knox Street and Honeycutt Road.

The 113th Sustainment Brigade from Greensboro and the 1452nd Combat Heavy Equipment Transportation Company from Durham helped get the equipment ready to go, said Sgt. Maj. William P. Gill, foreman of the MATES site at Fort Bragg.

The effort helps those units stay ready to perform similar tasks in "real world" situations, Gill said.

"It enhances their ability to do it anywhere in the world."


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