'Longhorns' provide critical support services
March 17, 2010
CONTINGENCY OPERATING SITE WARRIOR, Iraq - Combat units are the key elements to fighting and winning wars; however, they must function in concurrence with their respective service support elements.
So goes the truism, "Tactics win battles; Logistics win wars."
The Soldiers of Troop E, 2nd Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, Task Force Lightning Horse, are the forward support element for their task force. The "Longhorns" provide motor pool maintenance, food service support and run two Forward Arming and Re-fueling Points for more than 405 Soldiers and civilians.
"Our troop's primary mission is fuel and ammo support for the squadron," said Capt. Cameron Maples, commander, Troop E, 2/6th Cav. "We primarily support the Kiowa Warriors with fuel and armament, as well as fueling Black Hawks and Chinooks when the (Marne) Express comes through here.
We run the FARP out of Forward Operating Bases Warrior and out at FOB McHenry. Our main mission is to offer support through our FARPs, but do we also provide ground maintenance for the squadron, he continued.
For the complex mission set they are charged with, Troop E has posted some impressive numbers, which are wide-reaching throughout their squadron. Their motor pool has attained an operational rate of 96.8 percent, and they've completed 32 services while compiling 4,500 hours of direct manual labor on vehicles and equipment. Add the 24-hour, seven day-a-week FARP operations, and the services and support the troop provides are undoubtedly critical to their task force, the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade and the division.
"In the course of our mission, we provide all the Class I - the food. We (have the capability to) feed all our troops," said 1st Lt. David Hernandez, executive officer, Troop E, 2/6th Cav. "Over 400 (Soldiers) plus civilians across the squadron. (In addition), we support all ground maintenance. We do all repairs and services for all the vehicles in the squadron. We have over 102 pieces of equipment right now."
Although there are many critical functions the Longhorns are responsible for, the overwhelming majority of the troop's Soldiers recognize the FARP's significance.
"All of (our missions) are pretty important, but the most critical is the FARP," 1st Lt Hernandez said. "Providing gas to the (aircraft)."
Staff Sergeant Patrick Grant is the platoon sergeant for the distribution platoon. He and his platoon leader are chiefly responsible for ensuring the FARP is running properly. He spoke on his FARP Soldiers' mission supporting the task force.
"It impacts (the mission) greatly, because if we can't issue quality fuel, the birds can't fly. If we don't put serviceable ammunition on the pads, they can't shoot," Staff Sgt. Grant said. "We also have a remote FARP out at McHenry where they are stocked with ammunition too. It's important, because if the ammunition is unserviceable, it doesn't shoot right. It's very critical that we maintain and stay on top of that."
According to Staff Sgt. Grant, the FARP provides between 4,000 to 7,000 gallons of fuel per day. The output for the two FARPs for both fuel and ammunition vary with the frequency of the task force's missions; however, Staff Sgt. Grant's team is capable of fueling every type of rotary wing airframe.
"UH-60s, OH-58Ds, CH-47s, Hueys, Apaches," listed Staff Sgt. Grant. "We can pretty much fuel all of the rotary wing (aircraft)."
"We give them all the fuel and all the bullets they need to complete their mission. That's our main impact. When it comes down to combat, the FARP is the money maker. When it comes time for redeployment, it's definitely going to be the maintenance, motor pool and reset guys (getting us home)," Captain Maples added.
The Longhorn's distinct mission within TF Lightning Horse is a great source of pride to Capt. Maples, who recently took command. He reflected on his trooper's performance.
"It's the largest troop in the squadron, and we don't have (aviation officers) or warrant officers," he added. "It's more like a traditional company in the Army."
He added, "The (Forward Support Troop) here plays a major role in our current mission, and we're the only ones out here at Warrior so we're doing it by ourselves. It's an immense (job) for a small group of Soldiers, but the Longhorns are getting the job done."