Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Showing Support to the Mountain Top

By 2nd Lt. Liz Lopez

The 10th Mountain Division’s command team, Maj. Gen. Michael Oates and Command Sgt. Maj. James Redmore, spent the first week of September with the Soldiers of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team in Iraq. While they toured the battlefield, the pair took the opportunity to meet with troops and gain knowledge from the expertise of these highly successful troops.
Each of the six battalions in the brigade was given the opportunity to host the command team, show them around their battle space, and discuss with them their operations over the last year. The 210th Brigade Support Battalion, “Commando Providers,” was fortunate enough to host the division command team twice.
The commanding general’s first visit was at the beginning of his stay. On September 5, the battalion had the chance to give Maj. Gen. Oates a quick overview of their many support operations in the past year prior to giving him a tour of the Supply Support Activity, or SSA, and motor pool.
During the brief, he was given a short introduction to the multitude of missions conducted by the battalion in order to supply, maintain, and care for the brigade. Under the leadership of Lt. Col. Brian Rogers and Command Sgt. Maj. Spenser Gray, the Providers have activity pushed all of their capabilities and assets to the brigade’s war fighters. In its effort to do so, the battalion has practiced some rather unconventional tactics and been responsible for spearheading many bright innovations.
After his introduction, the general and his sergeant major headed to the SSA where they were shown the vast storage and ordering capabilities. Although it appears less familiar to the untrained eye, the yard is the brigade’s Wal-Mart and Home Depot. If a Soldier needs something this is where he goes to find it. They may not have everything, but the SSA prides itself on customer service and what they do not have immediately they order.
As the general finished his tour of the SSA in their brand-new warehouse, he paused in order to preside over an awards ceremony. During the ceremony, he presented two Bronze Star Medals, 12 Combat Action Badges, and 14 coins to some of the battalion’s best Soldiers. As an added treat, he promoted Pvt. Brendon Caudill to the rank of private first class in a rarely seen battlefield promotion.
Following the ceremony, the general and sergeant major continued their tour in the Company B motor pool where they were introduced to the unit’s five shops. Each of these shops is actively engaged in maintaining the brigade. Four of the five are equipped to conduct prolonged missions forward in Mobile Maintenance Teams, which sends not only the Soldiers, but their equipment forward.
Although they do not participate in mobile maintenance, the automotive section keeps busy with an on-call recovery mission. With this mission, the Soldiers can be ready to roll out the gate in 40 minutes seven days a week.
As the general completed his tour of the motor pool, he headed to the Commando CafĂ© Dining Facility to eat dinner with the battalion’s senior leadership. During the meal, the general spoke to the men of his philosophies and gave them his impression of the battalion’s successes.
With the evening over, the men disbursed for the evening to ponder the general’s words.
On September 9, the Provider’s senior leadership was once again arrayed to greet Maj. Gen. Oates and Command Sgt. Maj. Redmore. This time, they met at the Commando Pickup Zone in order to show the division leadership some of their efforts in the brigade’s area of operations.
First on the agenda was Patrol Base Shanghai, a small company-sized base belonging to Company B, 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment. This location has long been an example off which the Providers hope to model all their support.
Among the sites visited at the outpost was the aid station, run by Maj. Theodore Llanso, a doctor with Company C, 210th Brigade Support Battalion. Llanso has been at Shanghai for just over two months creating at the aid station what Rogers describes as a “basic platform.” With a doctor at the patrol base, the Soldiers there are less restricted by medical care.
Another crucial stop for the general at Shanghai was the tower. In one of the battalion’s ongoing projects, the welding shop in Company B has been upgrading the force protection on all of the towers in sector, adding shields to the windows, a pulley system to lower possible casualties, and an extra ladder to ensure safety when reaching the top.
After completing the rounds at Shanghai, the team once again boarded the helicopters for the short jump to Patrol Base Dragon.
At Dragon, the general was introduced to the members of Company F, one of the four Forward Support Companies attached to the brigade’s maneuver battalions. From their forward location, Company F provides 4-31 Inf. with distribution and maintenance assets at the battalion level.
Also at Dragon, the division command team had the opportunity to meet view the physical therapy and dental “Doc-in-a-Boxes.” This “DIABs” are mobile clinics allowing the physical therapist and the dentists to move to different locations in the brigade’s sector in order to treat Soldiers. Their presence has eliminated the need for Soldiers to be evacuated for routine care.
From the DIABs, the general made one final stop at Dragon’s aid station, which has been augmented with lab and x-ray capabilities to create a Level II(-). Like the DIABs, the additional medical assets ensure Soldiers are not evacuated for routine reasons by expanding the doctor’s capabilities to diagnose and treat from a forward location.
The aid station was the final stop on the general’s tour. From there he boarded the helicopter again for the flight back to Camp Striker.
Overall, Maj. Gen. Oates seemed impressed with the ingenuity and dedication of the battalion to support operations forward. But, it is the Provider’s philosophy that no mission is big if it supports the war fighters in the front.

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