Fort Drum Soldiers Hand Over Al Asad Sustainment Mission
May 11, 2009
AL ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq - Fort Drum Soldiers encased their colors and handed over their mission to a South Carolina Army National Guard unit during a transfer of authority ceremony here May 3.
Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 548th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, from Fort Drum, N.Y., provided logistic support for Army, Navy and Marine units throughout Anbar province, an area roughly the size of Maine or Indiana, during their 15-month tour.
"We prepare to depart Al Asad proud of a job well done and look forward to reuniting with our Families soon," said Lt. Col. Mary E. Abrams, commander, 548th CSSB. "But at the same time, we leave with part of our Family (subordinate units) still here."
Rather than deploy as part of a Brigade Combat Team, the Soldiers of HHC, 548th CSSB deployed alone, knowing they would work with different units in Iraq. Abrams said the biggest challenge was the constant turnover of those units under her command-24 different units from everywhere in the world and from different services, including water purification experts from Goodwater, Ala. and Navy Reservists from Omaha, Neb.
However, this constant turnover of units challenged the 548th CSSB to find the best way to accomplish their various missions.
"We couldn't have asked more from our Soldiers and Sailors," said Abrams, of Paseco, N.Y. "It didn't matter who showed up, we were always able to integrate them and we were always able to accomplish the mission."
As a logistics unit, the 548th CSSB performed a variety of sustainment missions, such as supporting the movement of rations, fuel, ammunition and repair parts to providing popular services like showers and laundry, Abrams said.
Abrams said the most rewarding mission was the maintenance, logistic, and water purification training the unit provided for the Iraqi Army.
Beginning in May 2008, a Logistics Training and Advisory Team partnering with the Al Asad Location Command, trained the IA to self-sufficiency in water treatment, power generation, and vehicle maintenance, according to Col. Samuel R. Bethel, commander, 321st Sustainment Brigade.
Command Sgt. Maj. Cliff Young, battalion command sergeant major, 548th CSSB, said he was impressed by his Soldiers' day-to-day level of commitment, dedication and overall work ethic.
"I'm honored to serve with them," said the Montgomery, Ala., native. "Whether it was 15 months or 20 months, we were here to carry out the mission."
Although an Army unit, the 548th CSSB was the primary support battalion for the Marines at forward operating bases and combat outposts throughout Anbar province. In accordance with the new security agreement, the unit also helped the Marines close down those bases located in or near cities.
The 548th CSSB was relieved by the 751st Combat Support Sustainment Battalion of the South Carolina Army National Guard.
"The 548 did an outstanding job," said Lt. Col. Jody L. Dew, commander, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 751st CSSB. "We plan to continue that tradition and support the effort."