CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait — As U.S. soldiers continue on supporting Operation Enduring Freedom, the media is filled with news and images of American combat troops in Afghanistan and across the globe. But behind the scenes of these forces are the men and women who ensure the front-line troops have what is needed to fight.
Soldiers of the 143d Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) conduct a Rehearsal of Concept (ROC) drill here Sept. 20, 2013. The ROC drill simulates how the 143d ESC provides sustainment support for contingency operations throughout their area of responsibility. Among those in attendance were Maj. Gen. Kurt J. Stein, Commander 1st Sustainment Command (Theater) and Brig. Gen. Bryan W. Wampler, Commander 143d Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), who offered insights and advice to the group. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Aaron Ellerman)
In 2009, the 143d Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) became the first ESC to conduct command-level sustainment operations in Afghanistan. Now in 2013, the 143d has once again been called into action in support of OEF. 143d Soldiers are currently deployed in Kuwait, Qatar, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, and other areas in the region. They are Task Force 32 and the area they support is Joint Security Area- Georgia; U.S. Army Central Commands' area of responsibility within the Middle East.
Task Force 32 owes its name to Lt. General Jeffrey W. Talley's Rally Point 32, which is his “strategic intent for the Army Reserve to sustain a high quality, all-volunteer, operational Army Reserve for Army and Joint Force missions at home and abroad.”
The 143d ESC Task Force 32 has many moving parts and each section works diligently to ensure mission success during its support of OEF.
The support operations section, or SPO for short, comprises nearly half the approximately 250 Soldiers in the command.
“The SPO is important because the entire theater depends on the SPO,” said Sgt. Maj. Monte M. Waller, the senior enlisted soldier for the section and a native of Dodge City, Ks. “We know everything on the roads, what it is and how it's getting there.”
The SPO is divided into many cells, each with its own function: the distribution integration branch; human resource operations; mobility; operations contract support; financial operations; logistics automation; supply and services; munitions; and the material readiness branch. Together, these branches handle the logistics of nearly all supplies and equipment for U.S. troops in JSA Georgia. Everything that service members need to fight and survive, the SPO sustains the levels required by tracking and distributing what is needed. This includes water, food, building supplies, ammunition, fuel, vehicles, and much more.
The mobility section of the SPO gathers information from subordinate transportation units and ensures those movements are executed within mission priorities.
“The mobility branch collects, validates, conducts and manages requirements for air and surface movement from supported units and determines the most appropriate mode for the requirements and recommends priorities of movement for each separate mode,” said Master Sgt. Manuel Garces, movements noncommissioned officer in charge and native of Puerto Rico.“We provide guidance, advice and staff oversight on the employment capabilities of air, land and water transportation assets to subordinate units. As branch NCOIC I'm responsible for the coordination for all branch members and support the Branch OIC in the day to day activities.”
For example, a particular operating base may need fuel, but the convoy planning to head their way may be carrying water. In which case, personnel from mobility will contact transportation units, making sure the need for fuel is satisfied first.
The distribution integration branch is the internal information center through which all the SPO cells funnel their information.
“It's making sure that the right people and products are there at the right time by synchronizing efforts of the SPO with adjacent staff sections,” said Maj. Charley Fairbanks a Johnston, Iowa resident.
Since each SPO cell has a specific responsibility, the DIB is important since it collects information and then passes it on to the party for which it is intended.
The S&S (supply and services) cell of the SPO manages supply class 1, 2, 3 and 4. Class 1 includes rations like bottled water and food. Items like tents comprise class 2 supplies. Class 3 is composed of supplies like bulk fuel, oils, and petroleum. Finally, construction materials are labeled class 4.
“S&S controls supply and demand, equipment, water and food,” said Sgt. 1st Class Samuel Chatman, S&S NCOIC and a native of Orlando, Fla. “Without S&S the warfighter will not succeed.”
Together these supply classes of the basic necessities of life contribute to the sustainability of U.S. forces in JSA Georgia. Anything from laundry services to showers, the S&S section of the SPO manages.
The distribution management center, or DMC, works simultaneously with SPO.
“DMC is the heart of SPO operations, how we support the war fighter, all the movement and supplies go through the SPO,” said Garces.
When the SPO and SPO sergeant major are away traveling to meet with “customers,” the DMC chief steps in to act as the leader of the SPO. The DMC supervises daily operations within the area of responsibility and provides sustainment operations advice to the commander.
Besides the SPO and DMC, members of the other general staff sections support the ESC itself as well as U.S. forces in JSA Georgia. These sections are personnel (G-1); intelligence (G-2); operations (G-3/5/7); logistics (G-4); signal/information technology (G-6); finance (G-8); civil affairs (G-9); inspector general (IG); equal opportunity (EO); staff judge advocate (JAG); public affairs (PAO); command surgeon and safety.
Soldiers of the G-1 section compile human resources information daily for the ESC and its subordinate units.
“The main role of G-1 in a deployed environment is personnel accountability and strength reporting, said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Barry Wilde, human resource technician, a native of Mystic, Conn. “It is paramount that we know at any given time where are soldiers are at on the battlefield.”
The G-1 section is responsible for replacing non-battle losses of personnel in the ESC and its subordinates. This means if someone redeploys due to illness, injury, etc., the section fills that now-empty position. Awards of specific levels also come through the G-1 section. For example, if a subordinate unit wishes to award one of its Soldiers a meritorious service medal, the medal must be approved by a general officer. The unit will send paperwork to the G-1 to be processed and reviewed for approval.
In G-4, troops are responsible for monitoring and managing internal logistics.
“G-4 is a vital part of support operations for the 1st Theater Sustainment Command for all current and forecasted missions,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Joseph Phoebus, senior ordnance ground maintenance warrant officer G-4, a native of Middleburg, Fla.
Phoebus and his team coordinate lodging and food support for the ESC before they even arrive in theater. They ensure supplies for the ESC itself get where they are supposed to go.
The G-4 also inspects the accountability of subordinate units regarding their transportation and maintenance programs. This includes ensuring the units are keeping the proper records and receipts.
The G-6 section works with signal units across JSA Georgia to get computer systems up and running and then maintained for the ESC.
“All the media helpdesk issues will be solved by my staff,” said Lt. Col. Jorge Riera, chief of G-6 and native of Ponce, P.R.
The daily number of help tickets often reaches 30. Problems range anywhere from a Soldier being unable to print to needing a new account on a particular system. This means Riera's staff installs network drops and runs wires. They also solve issues soldiers may have with their computers or software. Video calls and teleconferences are also facilitated by G-6 soldiers.
With only about three personnel, the G-8 section is small but accomplishes a great deal. They track and control the money for travel within theater, equipment, food, and uniforms for Task Force 32 troops, along with the payroll.
“Our goal is to ensure proper execution of funds and ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of our funding,” said Capt. Daniella Fitzhugh, comptroller for G-8 and native of Guntersville, Ala.
Besides overseeing funding of subordinate units, they also monitor Soldiers who travel around the country to validate contractors.
“We make sure the best job possible gets done,” said Fitzhugh.
Sgt. 1st Class Cesar Rivera, civil affairs NCOIC, advises the commander in all civilian operations.
“Civil affairs deals with civilians outside [military bases] and helps to build rapport by strengthening their trust,” said Rivera, a native of Puerto Rico. “For example, in Afghanistan we can get shot at everyday non-stop, but if I am given the opportunity, I can speak with them in a diplomatic way to help fix any issues.”
The soldiers in G-9 practice diplomatic relations with those people – the local populace. The G-9 also provides coalition loan support and strengthens relations with coalition forces.
In addition to these logistic and staff sections of the ESC, are those known as special staff and the Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC). These vital sections include the chaplain, public affairs, inspector general, equal opportunity, safety, judge advocate and the command surgeon.
The chaplains accomplish several necessary duties, including facilitating the free exercise of religion and promoting and living the Army values.
“The chaplain has a lot of resources at his or her disposal,” said Lt. Col. Brian Ray, the command chaplain and a native of Gainesville, Fla.
Not only can chaplains serve as confidants for Soldiers struggling with personal issues or stress, but chaplains can also refer Soldiers to combat stress teams, psychologists who are available to listen and help soldiers.
The chaplains also directly advise the commander on how religion affects military operations. For example, perhaps a popular religious pilgrimage to a specific city means military convoys traveling through that area should seek an alternate route. Chaplains also accompany military leaders on visits to the local populace since many throughout the region also view chaplains as leaders.
The deployment may prove different from the typical ESC mission. According to Waller, this time the 143d ESC is participating in retrograde operations due to President Barack Obama's planned withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
By U.S. Army Sgt. Elisebet Freeburg
Provided through DVIDS
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