Monday, August 20, 2007

Logistics is a force multiplier

By 2nd Lt. Liz Lopez

The support operations office, or SPO as it is more commonly called, is unique to the brigade support battalion. Staffed by 21 officers and non-commissioned officers, it has the task of developing, coordinating, and executing all of the brigade’s logistical and medical support operations. Such a mission is not easily overlooked, and neither are the Soldiers who carry it out.
A typical day in the SPO shop in 210th Brigade Support Battalion, “Commando Providers,” 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), is a flurry of movement and conversations flying across the room as the Soldiers scurry to deal with the day’s issues. Each day comes with a new mission and a new set of challenges.
Since arriving in Iraq more than a year ago, the SPO shop has been responsible for the successful execution of hundreds of logistical and medical missions in support of the maneuver units arrayed across the brigade’s battle space, including combat logistics patrols, combined medical engagements, and vehicle maintenance.
In order to achieve such success, the SPO shop staffs one of the most diverse groups of Soldiers in the battalion with specialties ranging from automation and maintenance to supply and transportation to medicine. The shop is a veritable cross-section of the knowledge and expertise seen throughout the companies in the support battalion.
That knowledge and expertise is what gives them the capability to provide the right support to the right people at the right time.
In the Provider battalion, the primary objective is to provide support to the war fighters on the ground. When a Soldier needs it, the Providers find a way to get it to him. It is the duty of the SPO shop to figure out exactly how to do just that.
“The philosophy we go by is ‘of course we can, now what’s your question?” said Maj. Glenn Woolgar, a native of Buffalo, N.Y., the support operations officer.
While the answer to every request might always be ‘yes,’ figuring out how to get to that answer is not always so simple.
“We solve puzzles,” said Sgt. 1st Class William Wasik, a native of Morgantown, W. Va., the SPO Transportation NCOIC.
Everybody in the shop has a piece of the puzzle. When something comes up that pertains to their specialty, they handle it. It is this element of teamwork that maintains the steady production flow at all hours of the day.
It is said that support never sleeps. For the Soldiers in the SPO shop that is because it has no time for rest.
“To the unit, everything is always a priority,” said Capt. Anita Trepanier, a native of Dayton, Ohio, the SPO Transportation Officer.
The requests which come through the SPO office everyday may be as simple as replenishing food and water or as challenging as coordinating armor upgrades for all the brigade’s vehicles in sector. But, the difficulty of the mission says nothing about its importance. For this reason, each new mission must be handled with a profound sense of urgency.
Coordination for support is done quickly so that missions do not have to wait on logistics. As the support battalion completes their missions, the individual results may be small, but when added together, they can amount to the brigade’s ability to continuing operating from their forward positions.
Despite such significance to the Soldiers on the ground, it is the goal of the SPO shop to make their support operations transparent.
“Maneuver commanders should never be hindered by logistical constraints,” explained Woolgar.
Such forward thinking requires a great deal of synchronization and communication between the maneuver battalions in sector and the support battalion. To achieve such a high standard, the SPO shop has stretched their assets forward, implanting liaisons at key locations to ease the logistical burden on maneuver units.
“We just track everything,” said 2nd Lt. Elizabeth Parker, a native of Virginia Beach, Va., the medical operations officer.
Every operation conducted since the 2nd BCT arrived in Iraq a year ago has required some semblance of support. Since that time, the SPO shop has had a measured affect on every support operation conducted by the Commando Providers.
“The most rewarding part is knowing that the commander that’s forward on the battlefield has all the materials and equipment he needs to execute his mission and execute it well,” said Woolgar.
At one time or another, every maneuver commander’s logistics need has passed through the 210th BSB SPO shop. Since logistics is the direct support of every maneuver operation, no mission this year could have been conducted without the input of the SPO. They are essential to every operation.

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