CAB Soldiers toughen their skills in FTX 


Pvt. 1st Class David Nesbeth, a water-supply specialist with A Company, 601st Aviation Support Battalion, Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, signals that the aircraft is ready to receive fuel during an FTX at the mock airfield on Fort Riley Dec 6. Members of the fuel and water platoon cross-train in order to increase the readiness and capabilities of the Soldiers.
Story and photo by Sgt. Keven Parry, CAB Public Affairs

Soldiers from A Company, 601st Aviation Support Battalion, Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, endured the falling temperatures and winds of Kansas to conduct a field training exercise (FTX) at the mock airfield on Fort Riley Dec. 6 - 9.

The exercise was conducted in order to allow Soldiers and leaders to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the company, which is responsible for supply and logistics operations within the CAB, and to prepare them for larger training exercises coming next spring.

During the FTX the Soldiers established a hot-refuel point, a forward Supply Services Activities center, and a tactical operations center, as well as conducted convoy operations.

Capt. Brian Hutchinson, the A Co. commander, said that the FTX would allow him to get a baseline of his company’s capabilities, prior to conducting further operations next year.

He said the goal was “to see where we are at for readiness. Are we ready to do anything?”

Spec. Richard Ansah, an automated logistics specialist with A Co., said, “the purpose is to, first of all, manage to asses our readiness. How quickly we can get ourselves mobilized.”

Many of the Soldiers have never performed their jobs outside of the day-to-day operations in the relative comfort of Fort Riley. For them, having to operate in difficult conditions and having to adapt to field operations is a necessary challenge in their professional development.

“It’s an eye-opener,” said Ansah.

The newer Soldiers have an opportunity to learn through experience while under the guidance and supervision of veteran Soldiers, such as the fuel and water platoon sergeant, Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Fields, who has spent his entire 15 years in the Army as a fuel supply specialist.

Fields supervised the first-time set up of fueling equipment used in a fuel system supply point (FSSP), a system that most Soldiers in the platoon had never seen before.

By harnessing the knowledge and capabilities of experienced Soldiers, the company was able to learn what they need to do in preparation for upcoming operations.

Although the company faced unexpected obstacles, they were able to use ingenuity, creative thinking, and old-fashioned leadership to complete their missions.

“Whatever happens, we should be able to take care of it,” Ansah said.

The lessons learned from this FTX will allow both the leaders and Soldiers of A Company, 601st ASB to determine areas of improvement and to leverage existing strengths prior to engaging in larger operations in the future.