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Woven mats cut convoy time in Paktika

Feb 2, 2011

By Spc. Christina Sinders, Combined Joint Task Force 101

PAKTIKA PROVINCE, Afghanistan -- Driving 50 miles in 12 hours may sound crazy to some, but to Soldiers delivering supplies over an austere road from Forward Operating Base Sharana to FOB Kushamond in Paktika province, Afghanistan, that's making good time.

With the suggestion of one Soldier from 3rd Platoon "Distribution," Company E, 1st Battalion of the 506th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, the time to deliver supplies was dramatically reduced during the unit's most recent combat logistics patrol, or CLP, Jan. 24-27.

The unit's mission was to deliver supplies and remove damaged equipment too large to transport by helicopter.

"We drove down from (FOB) Sharana to (FOB) Kushamond to drop off fuel and equipment, and picked up broken equipment and damaged trucks," said Pvt. Justin Bosch, a gun truck driver with Distro platoon. "Then we took all the broken equipment back to (FOB) Sharana to be fixed."

Terrain has proven the biggest obstacle in resupplying FOB Kushamond and has caused significant delays.

"Most of the roads are gravel and soft dirt," said Staff Sgt. Lucas Pedigo, distribution platoon sergeant for 3rd Plt. "Only a few roads are (paved), so we have to go slow in some places and get creative in others so we don't get trucks stuck or lose the (truck) loads."

To combat the soft, deep sand, Pedigo suggested the CLP lay down large woven mats over the sand to provide traction during their most recent patrol.

"This CLP was the first time we tried using the mats," said Pedigo. "This one area in our route is wide with deep, loose sand and a steep embankment on the other side. Our trucks always get stuck there, but this time we used the mats, and instead of it taking eight hours to get the convoy across, it only took a little over an hour."

The CLP Soldiers not only have to be creative, but they have to be problem solvers, according to their unit's leadership. Loading each truck and trailer to safely fit as much cargo and equipment as possible takes both hard work and problem-solving skills.

"All my (Soldiers) work very hard," said Capt. Justin Bowman, commander of Company E. "They drive long hours over rough and dangerous terrain, get here to (FOB) Kushamond, download all the equipment, upload the (broken military equipment), and then gear up and head back to (FOB) Sharana."

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