2nd Lt. Liz Lopez
210th BSB, 2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI)
CAMP STRIKER, IRAQ — It has been said that an army marches on its stomach; food is critical to troops in combat.
Perhaps no one knows this better than the Soldiers in Company A, 210th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) out of Fort Drum, N.Y.
The team regularly delivers food and water – called Class 1 supplies – to five patrol bases in the Commando brigade’s area of operations southwest of Baghdad.
But before the food can go to those places, Soldiers in the Class 1 yard have to unload it from the trucks in which the supplies arrive. The goods are then stored until a logistical patrol can take it out.
It takes a lot of work just to get the packages out to the bases.
“It’s the most manual work of any section,” Spc. Marcus Lumar said of the packing process.
Putting together a week’s worth of meals takes time and energy.
The standard package contains enough food to supply a patrol base for six to seven days, but packages can be smaller depending on the needs of the unit there. Regardless of the size, a push package is always stocked with Soldiers’ favorite foods.
“Stuff that comes in, like the hot items, we try to ship that stuff out real fast,” said Lumar, a New Orleans native. “We try to ship everything out fast.”
This philosophy is not only good for the Soldiers in sector, but practical for the Soldiers working in the Class 1 yard. Whenever the yard starts to empty of food, it is inevitable another shipment will arrive soon.
“Every time they send something out, they bring something in,” Lumar said.
Every two to three days, a shipment arrives to restock the Class 1 yard’s diminishing supply. These shipments contain a very large and diverse supply of food.
“Almost everything you can imagine comes through here,” Lumar said. “Basically we get what you see in the dining facility. It’s a lot of stuff.”
The responsibility of unloading it falls to the Class 1 team. This task must be done as quickly as possible, so there’s a specific system used to accomplish it.
While the Class 1 yard stores a large variety of food, there are only two categories which really matter , dry goods and frozen goods. Dry goods are nonperishable and can be stored in freight containers. Frozen goods are perishable and are stored in one of the yard’s six refrigeration units.
Since dry goods will not be affected by a few extra hours in the sun, they are unloaded first. As soon as the dry goods are down, the team moves onto the frozen foods.
For these, timing is important. As soon as they are unloaded, they are immediately repacked into one of the six refrigeration units where they can be organized later.
But “later” is not long for these Soldiers; when they have a mission to either send food out or bring food in, they get it done immediately, often staying until late in the night.
“We don’t leave until the mission is done,” Lumar said.
Due to the delicate nature of the foods stored in the refrigeration units, maintaining these mission-essential items is always a top concern in the Class 1 yard. Loss of power to one of these units could result in massive food spoilage.
Unfortunately, this happens; recently, the refrigeration unit at Patrol Base Warrior Keep broke down. With daily temperatures in Iraq well above 110 degrees, all the food inside spoiled. Supply Soldiers are always prepared for such an event, and they were able to send an emergency food shipment to the patrol base.
When it comes to food, the troops have one standing policy: Soldiers living in forward locations always come first.
“They deserve anything they can get,” said Sgt. Shane Harrod, a native of Davenport, Iowa, who serves with the 210th BSB
And when it comes to food, the Soldiers are not stingy.
“If we have it, we’ll give it to them,” said Lumar.
As the most basic necessity for survival, the supplying of Commandos with food and water will never slow down. Still, the Soldiers do not seem to mind the pressures of their job.
“I love doing it,” Harrod said. “It’s a headache sometimes, but to see people’s expressions … to me it’s a morale boost.”
As tedious as working at the supply yard can be, 210th BSB Soldiers realize they play a vital role in combat operations.
“It’s good to know that we are helping those guys downrange, providing for them, and making sure they get what they need,” said Sgt. Andrew Lawrence, a native of Portland, Ore., a supply noncommissioned officer with the 210th BSB.To a Soldier in a support battalion, the “guys downrange” are not just the people they supply; they are their protectors and family.
Monday, August 20, 2007
2nd Lt. Liz Lopez