keeping supplies flowing
Spc. Lakisha Long, a stock control clerk, and Sgt. Lazarus Cromartie, the warehouse assistant noncommissioned officer in charge, both with Company A, 209th Aviation Support Battalion, review the supply control system at the Supply Support Activity on Contingency Operating Base Speicher, Iraq. Their warehouse stocks many classes of supplies from food items to complete aircraft engines.

TIKRIT, Iraq, Dec. 21 2006 - As soldiers in Multination Division-North go about their day-to-day duties, an unseen group of fellow service members works day and night to make the mission possible.

The little-thought-of supplies that make the fight possible are part of a multimillion-dollar logistics operation that is the lifeblood of the war effort, and someone has to be responsible for ordering, tracking and delivering the vital equipment.

That's where Company A, 209th Aviation Support Battalion comes in.

From food to office supplies to vehicle parts, the soldiers at the company's warehouse at Contingency Operating Base Speicher handle supply requests from over seven battalions operating in Iraq and Kuwait.

"We're like the combat Wal-Mart," said Warrant Officer Dempster Upshaw, from Company A, 209th ASB. "What you can get at Wal-Mart, you can get here."

But handling that variety and volume of supplies presents its own problems and challenges.

"One of the biggest challenges is getting the right part to the customer," Upshaw said. "We track supplies from when the customer places the order, to getting it shipped from the U.S. to Iraq to when you're sitting at your desk and you sign the hand receipt for your new supplies."

And with as many as 50,000 requisitions coming from over 200 customers every day, it can get difficult, Upshaw said.

Another challenge faced by the company is the storage of supplies.

"We have to make sure it's stored properly so that it's protected from the elements," Upshaw said. "So when the costumer gets it, it works."

"There's a big difference between working here and in the rear," said Sgt. Missy Maye, the company's warehouse storage noncommissioned officer in charge. "In the rear we don't stock nearly as many lines. Over here it's quadrupled."

The care of the stored supplies is even more important when you take into account their value, Upshaw said.

"When I see parts like this (helicopter) engine here, I see money," Upshaw said.

With about $70 million worth of supplies at his main warehouse alone, and with as much as $50 million worth of equipment and supplies moving through every day, Upshaw has a lot to keep track of and take care of.

Fortunately, he doesn't have to handle the load on his own.

"I have outstanding NCOs and soldiers," Upshaw said. "Sergeants and soldiers are what make this place run."

So as the troops continue to fight in the global war on terror, the soldiers of Company A, 209th ASB will continue to keep them supplied.

"We do it with integrity," Upshaw said. "I'm not going to let my soldiers fall. I'm not going to let the Army down."

That takes dedication and drive.

"Sometimes you'll see me with a little shadow," Upshaw said, motioning at his jaw line. "I'm here that much. I live here and work here."

Page last updated Fri December 22nd, 2006 at 11:47