Supply Support Activities' experience keeps task force rolling in N. Iraq
December 19, 2009
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, Iraq - Supply Support Activities (SSA) provide that critical logistical link between Soldiers and the flow of supplies throughout Iraq. Without a properly functioning SSA, the truck dead-lined with a broken starter will probably stay broken and aircraft grounded with a damaged tail rotor will probably remain on the ground. The Soldiers of Company A, 209th Aviation Support Battalion, Task Force Wings, understand the importance of their mission. They operate one of the few multi-class SSA's in northern Iraq. Their battalion commander, Lt. Col. Ramsey Bentley, commander, 209th ASB, TF Wings, put the SSA's significance in perspective. "Our SSA may seem relatively small in terms of the number of Soldiers we have working there, but it certainly isn't small in terms of its responsibility." As the task force 'multi-class' SSA, they are responsible for supporting about 40 units and 100 DODAACs with more than 3,400 lines of supplies," he explained. "But, perhaps more importantly, our Soldiers there not only support [a large air cavalry squadron], but also the many infantry battalions and other ground [elements] that operate throughout the region, many of which are in direct partnership with Iraqi units. According to Lt. Col. Bentley, they're doing an outstanding job given their modest facility, remote location and less equipment and technology capabilities compared to SSA operations at larger contingency operating base locations. Lt. Col. Bentley and others attribute their success to the SSA Soldiers' depth of experience. Chief Warrant Officer Two Teddy Gustave, a 15-year veteran on his second deployment, is the 209th ASB's logistician responsible for administering operations. The SSA operates 24 hours-a-day, seven days-a-week. "We pride ourselves on the fact that no matter what, if a customer needs a part and we have it, or have the means to get it, they get it; period!" Chief Gustave praised the skill of his two operations' supervisors, Staff Sgt. Leeshe Grimes and Staff Sgt. Ruth Tanelus. Staff Sergeants Grimes and Tanelus are both material handling and storage specialist with the 209th ASB. They have more than 16 years experience in SSA and five deployments between them. There is virtually nothing one or both of them has not handled. "We've done all this before and know what to expect," said Staff Sgt. Tanelus. "Not only does that help us, but it's valuable for our Soldiers who have not deployed. When they don't understand something, we do," she said. "I think it's reassuring to [our team] knowing that we can handle anything that gets thrown at us, things that are unique to deployment environments," said Staff Sgt. Tanelus. "For instance, if one of our young Soldiers [get's involved in something] they haven't seen in Garrison, we can fall back on other deployment experiences and instinctively know where to go with a part," said Staff Sgt. Grimes. "One thing that continues to make us successful is our attitude about training our Soldiers," Staff Sgt. Grimes continued. "We preach that the job is no less important at home. No matter where we are, we are always attentive to every detail, the only difference when deployed is that we get more parts. Having Soldiers that understand that this job is no less significant at home is a big benefit to our customers up in this area," said Staff Sgt. Grimes. Staff Sergeant Osmund Anderson, a supply sergeant deployed with the 88th Military Police Company, a15-year Army Reserve veteran unit from Fort Eustis, Va., is one of those customers. He and his unit rely on the SSA for critical supplies. "I came down to FOB Sykes a couple days ago with 100 requisitions for equipment," said Staff Sgt. Anderson. "I returned 24 hours later not expecting them to be processed, but just hoping they'd been properly received," he continued. "I learned that not only had they been received, but the Soldiers had already processed everything within a day. This is equipment that's mission essential and they appreciated that," he said. "I returned and told my commanding officer during our staff meeting, 'Sir, we have an SSA out here that actually cares. If what you need is within their power and limits, we'll get it.'"