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Texas Guardsmen - Supporting The Mission and Comrades
by U.S. Army 1st Lt. Melinda G. West - December 11, 2014

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BROWNWOOD, Texas - When disaster strikes, the members of Joint Task Force 136 (Maneuver Enhancement Brigade) answer the call with lifesaving capabilities, such as decontamination, search and extraction, and medical triage. With 500-700 troops working around the clock for days at a time, they need support. Within this National Guard element, the 636th Brigade Support Battalion stands ready to provide the fuel, maintenance, water and food necessary to keep these Guardsmen working as long as necessary.

For the week of Nov. 15-21, 2014 ... the Marshall-based battalion with elements in Dallas-Fort Worth came together at Camp Bowie in Brownwood, Texas, to ensure JTF-136 (MEB) completed its Homeland Response Force training. This training, which provides specialized military capabilities to civilian authorities in the event of disaster, is part of the Department of Defense's consequence management enterprise designed to save lives and mitigate suffering and damage. The BSB is an invaluable element to the success of that effort.

Texas National Guard Soldiers with B Company, 636th Brigade Support Battalion troubleshoot a maintenance problem during annual training at Camp Bowie in Brownwood, Texas, Nov. 19, 2014. (U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Melinda G. West)
Texas National Guard Soldiers with B Company, 636th Brigade Support Battalion troubleshoot a maintenance problem during annual training at Camp Bowie in Brownwood, Texas, Nov. 19, 2014. (U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Melinda G. West)

“My job is important,” said Pvt. Samuel Birdine, a water production specialist with A Company, 636th BSB. “Good water is important; without good water the Soldiers will get sick and not get their jobs done. It is important that I know what I am doing to give them good water.”

Keeping the troops hydrated and fed is instrumental to mission success. As such, the BSB is usually among the first elements to arrive for training exercises. Food Service NCOIC Sgt. 1st Class Robert Miller and his cooks set up a containerized kitchen and fed the entirety of JTF-136 (MEB), composed of 10 company-level units from across Texas totaling more than 500 Soldiers and Airmen. Their days began at 3:30 a.m. and ended at 10:00 p.m. They served two hot meals a day and provided hot beverages to keep up morale and provide warmth during the northern Texas winter. They braced the cold as they prepared these meals, not in a dining facility, but under an outdoor awning.

“I am having fun, learning, and enjoy this,” said Pvt. William Escobar, a food service specialist with HHC, 636th BSB. “At school we used recipe cards, I haven't seen one here.”

When asked about his future plans in the military, he said, “I am going to run a kitchen like this.”

The battalion's A Company kept the brigade's vehicles rolling with four fuel points supporting the 175 military vehicles and generators throughout Camp Bowie.

Meanwhile, B Company provided maintenance and recovery support for the same equipment, completing five work orders and 46 hours of maintenance during the weeklong annual training period.

They provided troubleshooting and maintenance support to the brigade's Deployable Rapid Assembly Shelter generators, which provide HVAC and power, so that the stability of the brigade's headquarters element remained constant and there were no interruptions to the brigade battle rhythm. Fulfilling this mission is fulfilling the battalion motto and standard of “We Support, We Deliver.”

“Our soldiers are mentored and trained to step up,” said 1st Lt. Austin Carter, the B Company executive officer. “I see on a daily basis young Soldiers displaying integrity and leadership that is normally associated with a long career.”

Headquarters and Headquarters Company of 636th BSB provided command and control to the battalion personnel at Camp Bowie. Staff officers, led by Maj. Carlos Garcia, managed daily operations for everything from available fuel to requests for more fruit in the mess hall.

Sgt. 1st Class Heath Campbell from HHC, 636th BSB, defined his mission to support as, “Heck yes, we do that!”

Providing support was the main effort for the Soldiers of the BSB, but they also performed individual weapon qualification, field sanitation training, and set up static displays for an Employer Support to the Guard and Reserves (ESGR) event. Fifteen employers and partners attended the tour, which included a helicopter ride, demonstration by the troops and a military Meal, Ready-to-Eat lunch.

“My Soldier is there when I open and is there after I leave,” said Mike Tyler, a civilian employer from Dallas-Fort Worth who toured the site with his employee, Sgt. Mark Atkins. “His dependability and work ethic is not found in others I have hired without military experience. I couldn't ask for a better employee.”

The support provided by the BSB enables mission-success for the brigade and ensures the service members of this National Guard organization are prepared for anything that comes their way.

“Napoleon believed that fast efficient supply trains were crucial to vanquishing the enemy on the battlefield,” said Lt. Col. John C. Crawson, commander for the 636th BSB. “Today my battalion uses these principles to provide quality support to not only JTF-136 (MEB) but to the citizens of Texas if called upon.”

By U.S. Army 1st Lt. Melinda G. West
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2014

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