On my very first Annual Training with Iowa National Guard, back in 1992, our Army communications battalion drove Humvees for two-and-a-half days--stopping to rest at two "overnight halts"--all the way to Camp Shelby, Miss.
As a new soldier, I didn't realize that such a large-scale, long-haul mission was so unique. Subsequent Annual Training missions were more likely to take us only a long-day's-drive away.
For example, when I joined a combat Engineer unit that used tracked Armored Personnel Carriers (A.P.C.), we'd either have our APCs hauled by other National Guard units specializing in Transportation--Army semi-truck drivers--or we'd borrow equipment from a motorpool at Fort McCoy, Wis. Think of the latter as an Avis or Budget rental service run by Uncle Sam: "Sir, will you be returning that M113 with a full tank of gas, or will you want us to fuel it for you?"
Just because our tracked equipment couldn't be driven on the highways, however, didn't mean that we couldn't be. We packed into our remaining Humvees and drove ourselves to where we needed to go.
When I was transferred to a "light" Infantry unit, however, we didn't even have enough organic Humvees and trucks to transport all our personnel and equipment. (In Army terms, "light" means that you're capable of walking everywhere.) That meant that most of our soldiers bussed back and forth to Annual Training.
So at least the Infantry guys in our brigade are trained up on how to cram themselves and their backpacks into a can, so that they can be bussed cross-country. To mash together an Army training rule-of-thumb with an old Greyhound slogan: "Fight like you train, train like you fight. And leave the driving to us."
Still, I'm not looking forward to the bus trip to Afghanistan ...