Packing for a trip can be a stressful ordeal. But for members of the 42nd Military Police Brigade, always being ready to go is part of the job. When a humanitarian crisis strikes, this team has its duffel bags and rucksacks packed and its members are quickly on their way to the airfield. Procedures ironed out in Emergency Deployment Readiness Exercises facilitate the rapid responses of 25 expeditionary military police Soldiers and provide blueprints crucial in pressure situations.
Sergeant Major Hector Cruz, the chief of this unit, said days like this are tiring, but important.
“We practice to be prepared to do this if something like a typhoon hits Guam tomorrow and we’re called out there,” he said.
The Thursday training exercise began at 3 a.m. the day before. A full day of checking equipment, such as weighing the vehicles and finding each vehicle’s center of mass for loading, was followed by an early morning phone call. At 2 a.m., Thursday, many were awakened, and by 3 a.m., back on the field and continuing to get the two Humvees, two trucks and the equipment they’d be carrying ready. By 10 a.m., the entire group was there, ready to measure, weigh and inventory everything set to go on the C17 aircraft parked at McChord Field.
Captain Jeff Devaul-Fetters was there to evaluate the team, checking to ensure every step of the process was done as planned.
“This is the first unit sent out, so they must be prepared for anything,” he said. “Then, if there is more support needed, they can contact incoming groups to bring in more medical supplies or (coordinate) another place to work, for example.”
The aircraft did not take off that day, the vehicles and Soldiers were just loaded up without experiencing aerial maneuvers. Instead, the training focused on creating muscle memory, in checking the vehicles and making sure it’s all tied down, for when the 2 a.m. call is about a real crisis.
Private Dakota Hall, a mechanic and armorer, was being trained to weigh Soldiers and create a manifest of everything they take onto the plane. These training sessions help coordinate the logistics of where people are supposed to be.
“We have to get out of here as fast as possible when something is wrong. Every second counts,” he said. “Plus, this is great for morale because you really have a hold on what you’ve gotta do.”
Both Army and Air Force mechanics check the vehicles before loading them onto the C17. They are chained down and arranged based on their weight, each vehicles center of balance marked with a long line of black tape.
By 1 p.m., the loading began. In just a few short hours, everything was loaded, checked off, then unloaded, checked off again and put away for another exercise or deployment to a place in need.