Hundreds of Soldiers head to Louisiana for month-long combat training exercise

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ROCK ISLAND, ILLINOIS (07/11/2018) (readMedia)-- Hundreds of vehicles and pieces of equipment are being loaded up and heading south for a massive month-long military training exercise. About 200 vehicles from the Illinois Army National Guard will load onto rail cars at the Rock Island Arsenal (RIA) July 9-13, as part of a deployment to the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) at Fort Polk, Louisiana.

The moving effort is part of training and loading exercises using assets from the National Guard, RIA, and the Illinois State Police, according to Lt. Col. Kevin Little of Franklin, Illinois, deputy logistics officer for the ILARNG. Part of the training exercise includes demonstrating the Guard's ability to deploy vehicles and equipment quickly. Little said the 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) established rail head operations to load equipment at RIA and at Camp Atterbury, Ind.

"This is to test how well we move and how well we build up combat power," said Chief Warrant Officer Jeremy Doggett of Greenview, Illinois, civil operations officer-in-charge of the ILARNG's Logistics Directorate. "We have about 180 pieces of rolling stock here we have to load, and another approximately 700 pieces at Camp Atterbury in Indiana. The whole exercise includes this unit and 24 enablers from around the United States." He called the effort a complex move with "2,400 moving parts."

Col. Mark Alessia of Sherman, Illinois, commander of the 33rd IBCT, says ILARNG leaders realize this month-long training is a big commitment for many Guardsmen. "We very much appreciate our families and civilian employers who continue to support us as we take on some additional training to make sure we are combat ready at all times."

The 33rd IBCT will establish a rail head in Wilmington, Ill., to unload the vehicles and equipment when it returns from its JRTC rotation in August.

Photo Cutline 1: Illinois Army National Guard Soldiers drive a HUMMV onto the first car of an eight-car unit at the Rock Island Arsenal rail head July 10. More than 200 vehicles are being loaded at the Arsenal, with an additional 700 being loaded at Camp Atterbury, Ind. The rail exercise is part of a movement by the ILARNG to the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La. (Photo by Eric Cramer, Public Affairs Officer, USAG-Rock Island Arsenal)

Photo Cutline 2: Tie down crews ready eight flat cars to receive their cargo at the Rock Island Arsenal rail head in preparation to load Illinois Army National Guard vehicles and equipment. The facility is large enough to allow eight rail cars at a time to be loaded for the month-long JRTC deployment. More than 200 pieces of rolling stock will be loaded at the Arsenal facility July 9-13. (Photo by Eric Cramer, Public Affairs Officer, USAG-Rock Island Arsenal)