FORT IRWIN, Calif. — “Tactics win battles, logistics wins wars,” according to an ancient and anonymous military axiom.
This saying was proved by Operation Hickory Sting across hundreds of square miles of the High Mojave Desert. About 4,200 Soldiers of the North Carolina National Guard’s 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT) with 350 armored vehicles and more than 1,500 other wheeled vehicles maneuvered and fought in 24-hour operations against an Opposing Force (OPFOR).
The OPFOR consist of U.S. Army peers who mimic weapons and tactics of the most current real-world threats at the National Training Center (NTC) in Fort Irwin, California, in the heat of early July.
Multi-million dollar jet turbine powered tanks burn through thousands of gallons of fuel. Soldiers pushed to their limits needing food and water, but continued their mission because of the Soldiers of the 630th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion (CSSB), 113th Sustainment Brigade.
“We bring the warfighter the required supplies so they can continue the fight,” said Lt. Col. Tom Petzold, 630th CSSB commander.
The 630th CSSB Soldiers operated out of their logistical support area (LSA), a collection of transport trucks, repair and maintenance bays, generators, fuel tanks and tents housing the tactical operations center (TOC).
At the TOC, leaders scour maps, lists of vehicles, manage crews and log available supplies. They match the capabilities of the unit against the resources demanded by modern military operations. Convoy commanders briefed drivers on the next mission huddled around their desert camouflage trucks.
On order were a 10-wheeled M1074A1 Palletized Load System (PLS) and M1088 Medium Tactical Vehicles (MTV) truck engines. The vehicles whined as the convoy departed into the scrub and bush covered hills.
Long lines of the PLS and MTV trucks snaked across dusty roads providing everything a brigade at war needs. Armored humvees with M2 .50-caliber machine guns pulled security as convoys arrived in units of the 30th ABCT’s 230th Brigade Support Battalion.
There the supplies were dispatched to resupply the 30th ABCT Soldiers and armored forces, Abrams tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles, paladins, armored personnel carriers, Hercules recovery vehicles and other armor.
“Every aspect we do in the real world, we can do at NTC,” Petzold said.
The convoys returned to continue the round-the-clock operations under the watchful eye of Soldiers dug in on the perimeter of the LSA as the next convoy prepared to roll out.
“It (Operation Hickory Sting) is as real world as it gets without receiving live rounds,” Petzold said.