Friday, September 07, 2007

Innovative initiatives, sending the flail mower forward

By 2nd Lt. Liz Lopez

To a casual observer, the Wednesday morning mission seemed no different than any other regularly scheduled combat logistics patrol. But this movement from Patrol Base Dragon from Camp Striker had one very important difference: prominent in the line of trucks was a five-ton truck with a flail mower mounted on it.
The flail mower began as an initiative of the 210th Brigade Support Battalion, “Commando Providers,” 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) out of Fort Drum, N.Y. For the last two months, it, along with two others, was assembled and field tested by the welding section of Company B.
During the field tests, the mowers have already proved useful cutting down the tall reeds growing along canals and bordering the highly trafficked roads of the brigade’s battle space. The purpose behind this carefully manicured vegetation was to allow Soldiers’ eyes to penetrate beyond farther off the road beyond the reed wall to search for improvised explosive devices, caches, and insurgents.
On August 29, the flail mower in question was being transferred from its creators in Co. B to Co. F, the forward support company attached to 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment. The change will allow Co. F to cater future reed-removal operations to their maneuver battalion’s specific needs and requests.
“The only thing that’s constant is change,” said Capt. David Cyr, a native of Augusta, Maine, the commander for Co. A, and the platoon responsible for the movement.
Change is what the transfer of the flail mower represented to the Soldiers. And the mower forced change before it even left Striker when it was downloaded from its uploaded position on a contracted truck in order to be driven to Dragon.
The change occurred after seeing the mower mounted. Left on top of the lowboy, it would be too tall to traverse the low-hanging power lines along the route.
Dismounting the mower did not take long, and the convoy made it to its destination without incident.
Once the mower was safely delivered to Co. F, the second stage in its transfer began.
Accompanying the flail mower to Dragon that day was Spc. Brian Cagle, a native of Claremore, Okla., one of Co. B’s trained operators. His mission was to train Soldiers in Co. F on the use of the mower. At Dragon he got right to work.
With a little help, he assembled most of the maintenance section of Co. F and gave them a class on operating the flail mower.
“It’s like playing a big video game,” said Pfc. Timothy Souza, a native of Barstow, Calif.
As Souza implied, the controls to the mower are not challenging to learn, and the class was completed within an hour.
“If you know how to use a forklift, a flail mower is easy,” explained Cagle.
Despite the rapidity with which the skill of handling the flail mower can be learned, proficiency takes a little more time. So, after his class, Cagle left the Soldiers to master their techniques in preparation for their first mission to “cut the grass.”For the Commando Providers, the transfer of the flail mower is a big step in empowering the maneuver battalions with their support by pushing equipment and supplies and innovative ideas to the forward units. Every reed successfully cut down by the mower reflects on the creativity and originality of the battalion in their quest to support a brigade scattered across an expansive battle space.

No comments: