Quick Reaction Force -
264th Corps Support Battalion (Airborne)
LT Bryan E. Swartz
In Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, the 264th Corps Support Battalion (Airborne) saw a need for a small force of Soldiers that could provide security for the entire battalion. Later notified to deploy from Fort Bragg, NC, to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom in Spring 2004, the 264th used its previous experience in Afghanistan to create such a force. Upon arrival in Southwest Asia, the 264th Corps Support Battalion (Airborne) became the Logistics Task Force 264.
On 1 May 04, the 264th was alerted to deploy to Kuwait en route to Iraq. A "Quick Reaction Force" was created at Fort Bragg to perform convoy and security force protection of the battalion’s base camp. The battalion’s outgoing commander defined the need for creating a Quick Reaction Force, heavily armed and fast. He envisioned a small force to provide the firepower to protect the combat service support (CSS) convoys conducting operations throughout Iraq. He selected the platoon leader and platoon sergeant. The Soldiers and noncommissioned officers (NCOs) for this new platoon were chosen from the battalion’s companies that were not deploying: the 623d Quartermaster Company (Aerial Equipment Repair and Supply), the 600th Quartermaster Company (Aerial Equipment and Repair) and the 503d Maintenance Company (Direct Support).
The Quick Reaction Force platoon includes personnel trained in different military occupational specialties (MOSs) that range from parachute riggers to generator mechanics. These Soldiers have varied backgrounds, including former Marines and infantrymen who give the platoon expertise on weapon emplacement and small unit tactics. The personnel from the 503d Maintenance Company (Direct Support) help keep vehicles running. These Soldiers are aggressive and passionate about their mission and the safety of the Quick Reaction Force and the 264th.
The mission - determined at Fort Bragg - was to act as the Quick Reaction Force for the 264th and to provide gun truck support for the battalion. Upon arrival in country, the Quick Reaction Force took on the additional tasks of providing support to armed civilian contractors who ride along as security for civilian trucks and providing gun truck support to units outside the Logistics Task Force 264. The Quick Reaction Force platoon had completed more than 150 missions in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom by Autumn 2004.
In the United States, realistic training for the Quick Reaction Force included the convoy live-fire exercise where the platoon battle drills were rehearsed and trained. The Quick Reaction Force also trained on mounted reconnaissance, land navigation and ground assault convoys. In Kuwait, the Soldiers trained on entry control point procedures, Military Operations on Urban Terrain (MOUT) and how to enter and clear rooms. The Quick Reaction Force conducted other convoy live-fire exercises that taught the tactics, techniques and procedures for the Iraqi theater of operations. They honed their techniques for gun truck support throughout Iraq.
After arriving in Kuwait and receiving the trucks from the port, the trucks for the 264th were taken to Arifjan for bolting on armor from recycled Add on Armor (AOA) kits and for installing both air-conditioning and hard tops with ring mounts for heavy weapons. Hardening or "up-armoring" vehicles became a priority for one month in Kuwait, as Logistics Task Force 264 faced the long convoy north to the Camp Victory Annex near the Baghdad International Airport.
Convoy ambushes in Iraq were causing more US casualties than any other single threat. The Army hired contractors to install this armor for units in Kuwait and Iraq. The contractors used steel specifically hardened to stop small arms fire from multiple threats to personnel, including improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and rocket-propelled grenades. The contractors and soldiers also replaced windshields with thick bulletproof glass. The contractors trained Soldiers how to install the armor plating and also how to install and repair the air-conditioning systems that combated temperatures of 120 degrees Fahrenheit and higher during the day. In fact, the welding section began to work on the vehicles after sundown, from 1800 to 0500 for cooler temperatures and less stress on the Soldiers.
Workers also installed a mobile tracking system (MTS) in two of the trucks, so Soldiers could send and receive messages such as electronic mail. Once in Iraq, the 264th received the warlock system - an improvised explosive-jamming device - and installed the warlock system into several trucks. This system helps jam radio frequencies that may set off an IED.
In summary, the personnel of the Quick Reaction Force with their equipment have come together as a cohesive unit, providing security to 264th. As platoon leader for this specially trained unit, I have observed that these Soldiers and NCOs consistently exhibit the discipline and ability to adapt to constantly changing missions to enable the success and effectiveness of Logistics Task Force 264.
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