Monday, August 20, 2007

Combat logistics patrols send more than supplies

2nd Lt. Liz Lopez
210th BSB, 2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI)
Multi-National Division – Center

CAMP STRIKER, IRAQ — Through the ebb and tide of combat operations, the warfighters’ need for supplies and equipment doesn’t change.
It is this need that Company A, 210th Brigade Support Battalion, “Commando Providers,” 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) out of Fort Drum, N.Y., seeks to fill, and the combat logisticians will stop at nothing to succeed in this mission.
A year into their deployment, a combat logistics patrol is just another part of the company’s routine. They perform at least three patrols per week. The importance of the mission does not diminish with its frequency. There will always be a need to provide forward units with new tools for them to accomplish their tasks.
Although the maneuver units who benefit from logistics patrols are grateful for the supplies and goodies they receive, a lot of work goes into each logistics patrol that they will never see. Every CLP is a combat operation that requires hours of preparation and planning to ensure success.
After more than 150 missions in the first year of their 15-month tour, the Soldiers in Co. A’s two distribution platoons are well aware of the work required to execute any mission outside the wire.
“We are the United Parcel Service, the Yellow Cab, the Wal-Mart, and the Home Depot for the entire brigade,” said Sgt. Roosevelt Pringle, a native of Charleston, S.C., a truck commander for 4th Platoon, Company A.
In order to be all this to a brigade of Soldiers, the distribution platoons must treat each movement as a brand new operation. Trucks are checked and rechecked for deficiencies; load plans are carefully examined and routes are scrutinized for recent enemy activity. Gear is inspected for serviceability, and the platoon is re-trained on the rules of engagement, escalation of force, and unit tactics, techniques and procedures.
But even after hours of preparation, the greatest strength of each CLP remains the Soldiers themselves, and their ability to execute tasks as a team.
While on the road, no one job is more important than another. Everyone knows everyone else’s job. With such knowledge and cross-training, the Soldiers do not hesitate to work where the need is greatest.
When downloading air conditioners during a trip to Patrol Base Dragon, Iraq, the Soldiers seemed to swarm to help like ants swarm to a picnic. The daunting task of unloading 63 air conditioners by hand was completed in a matter of minutes.
The spirit of teamwork extends even beyond the company to their relationships with other companies in the battalion. Whether it is a forward support company attached to a maneuver battalion, or another of the four base companies, each CLP is considered a battalion effort.
“We get a little bit of each of the companies,” explained 2nd Lt. Kelly Leugers, a native of Cincinnati, Ohio, a distribution platoon leader for Co. A.
For every CLP, each of the base companies contributes at least one Soldier to the main effort. Headquarters and headquarters company sends a communication technician. Co. B sends a wrecker and crew for recovery assistance. Co. C sends a medic for medical coverage.
The forward support companies are more directly involved in receiving supplies and equipment, as well as evacuating or returning items that are broken or in excess.
With the quick tempo of operations in Iraq, the pace of missions will only increase, and Co. A’s schedule will adjust to reflect this. But the Soldiers say they don’t mind. They enjoy being on the road where they can really do their jobs.
“It’s better than sitting in the motor pool,” one Soldier explained.
So, until they return to home to upstate New York, Co. A will continue to move anything and everything from one end of the battlefield to the other as needs dictate.
Despite their many successes in the brigade’s area of operations, there is only one that really matters to the Soldiers and leaders in Co. A.
“You all take care of each other and come back safe,” said company commander and Augusta, Maine, native Capt. David Cyr as he bid farewell to his platoon on a recent mission.
Regardless of the things they give to the war fighters in their forward locations, it is what they give to each other that mean the most: love and security.

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