Monday, August 27, 2007

Passing on logistics ideas that work

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

MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq — The Army Materiel Command is committed to providing Soldiers with the best support possible - whatever a Soldier needs, AMC gets it for them.
Of course, being at the forefront of the Army’s support system is not easy. And since two heads are better than one, the AMC relies on the logisticians working on the ground, pioneering superior concepts and better methods of providing for the fighting force.
On August 24, the AMC commanding general, Gen. Benjamin Griffin, spent an hour touring Forward Operating Base Mahmudiyah, Iraq to learn more about the support that the 210th Brigade Support Battalion “Commando Providers” give their parent unit, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) out of Fort Drum, N.Y.
Packing a year’s worth of toil and sweat into an hour-long visit is impossible, but it is enough time to demonstrate the most important aspects of the battalion’s tireless support, which ensures the quality of life for the Soldiers who live and work at small outposts in sector.
The tour started with the most basic need: power generation. This vital asset is the root of everything that the Providers do, running everything from computers and communication to lights, air conditioning, refrigerators and water purifiers.
In charge of the power generation for the 210th BSB is Chief Warrant Officer Johnny Upshur. He and his ground support equipment mechanics from Company B, 210 BSB, are constantly at work. With more than 200 generators supplying power to the brigade, there is always some kind of maintenance to be done. They do it living side-by-side with the rifle and artillery companies to ensure that they have what they need.
As the tour progressed, the general visited the Mahmudiyah dining facility, home of the Soldier’s best friend - hot chow. The dining facility is also the arena for the support battalion’s greatest challenge in its battle to provide for the Commando brigade.
In order for a Soldier to survive at a remote location for a prolonged period, he needs to eat. Meals, Ready-to-Eat will prevent him from starving, but what any troop really wants after a long day on patrol is a warm meal.
In order to get this, he first needs some means of storing and refrigerating perishable foods. This is the basis of the Providers’ ongoing – and epic - battle with refrigeration units. Extreme temperatures and a harsh environment have proven the current solutions to refrigeration needs unreliable at best, so the support troops continue to tinker with the system.
Refrigerators also chill water for Soldiers laboring in the 120-degree heat.
“An organization runs on its stomach,” said Griffin, presenting coins to two of the brigade’s cooks.
Almost as important to the Soldier as a hot meal and cold drink of water is purified bulk water. This is the source of great innovation on the part of the Providers.
By doctrine, the support battalion has the capability to purify water at one central location, and distribute it to those who need the water for cooking, laundry, and showers.
However, the 210th BSB have never been known for allowing doctrine to constrict their operations. Of the brigade’s 10 forward patrol bases, four have their own water purification capabilities. Such a use of their resources eases the burden of water production and distribution.
As the tour continued to the motor pool, the Providers took the opportunity to introduce Griffen to Chief Warrant Officer Julio Hall, the officer in charge of the Supply Support Activity, and Chief Warrant Officer Michael Taylor, the officer in charge of maintenance.
Although both of their operations are based on Camp Striker, Iraq, the fruits of their labor can be seen throughout sector. Whether it‘s the wood and nails which built the patrol bases or the upgrades to force protection on the brigade’s vehicles, the work of Hall and Taylor drives operations.
When it comes to supply and maintenance, the Providers are paving the way toward success.
In maintenance especially, the Soldiers in the 210th BSB are proactive in getting their skills to the Soldiers where they are located.
In what the battalion refers to as mobile maintenance teams, the equipment experts have spent weeks on end repairing and servicing everything from the brigade’s weapons to night vision devices. Their dedication has made the forward units more robust and capable of continuous operations.
As Griffin left the motor pool, he stopped by one of the support battalion’s three flail mowers. The mowers, mounted to the backs of vehicles by the welding team, remove the reeds which grow in the canals along the roads. This vegetation has been used to hide roadside bombs, insurgents and weapons. The support battalion’s initiative helps to keep frequent travelers of the roads safer.
As Griffin prepared to leave, he was introduced to the Providers’ two Iraqi trainers, 1st Lt. Alfredo Sanchez and 1st Lt. Jason Schulz. These Soldiers have dedicated their time and resources to expanding the support battalion’s logistics support beyond the brigade to the Iraqi security forces.
The most important mission for the military is training their Iraqi counterparts well; it’s the only way to ensure success as they turn responsibility for Iraq over to Iraqis. It’s easy to overlook during the transition team’s training, but logistics is a big part of that success.
The Iraqi systems can be challenging and frustrating to work with, and successes few and far between. But the Providers overcome every day – it’s why they are leading the way in innovative solutions to logistics dilemmas.
When Griffin boarded his helicopter, he did so with plenty of information on groundbreaking innovations being used to support dynamic counterinsurgency operations. Just as maneuver doctrine has changed to accommodate this new type of war, support doctrine is adapting – and doing it rapidly. The 210th BSB, 2nd BCT is showing the way.

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