A little after the fact, but still a relevant case study on the logistics involved in troop movements. Lamers Bus Lines made history this past winter in Wisconsin when it moved a total of 3,500 National Guard troops over the course of eight hours.
The soldiers of the 32nd Brigade were headed to Camp Blanding, FL, to receive training prior to their eventual 11-month assignment in Iraq.
The maneuver required 75 coaches, 150 drivers and three months of planning to pull off the state’s biggest-ever troop movement by motorcoach. Lamers even had to tap some of its mechanics to drive. Fred Braun, Lamers Central Wisconsin operations manager and one of the lead drivers says the big concern was to make the passengers as comfortable as possible.
While Lamers had some latitude of its own to accomplish the move, the company did have to meet specific National Guard schedule commitments — most notably getting the soldiers to the contracted dining operations in a timely manner.
Convoys of three and four motorcoaches carried the soldiers from 28 separate locations over the course of eight hours. Lamers installed bunk beds with canvas curtains in all coaches to provide separate space for the drivers to switch off and rest.
Lamers says each plan came with a Plan B with backups on call, plus one coach packed with enough emergency parts to fill a baggage bay. The company reported no breakdowns, but Braun says blizzard conditions through southern Wisconsin and Rockford, IL were treacherous.
Drivers kept constant contact, and each time a coach crossed a state line, the lead NCO aboard had to call a designated number and report the position.
Lamers has been moving Wisconsin military troops for more than 20 years and says this particularly historic move for the National Guard was not much different from the conventional tours it runs to Florida — except Lamers conducted this particular tour 74 times in one day.
In some rough storms that blew trees over on the return trip, one driver ran over a branch that knocked a tire off its rim.
Lamers mechanics close by took care of the problem. Bad weather and all, Lamers says it stands ready to do it again.