Alabama Guard Brigade staff trains at ASC
Command Sgt. Maj. John Hagler, Maj. Chris Johnson, Lt. Col. Joe Mitchell, Col. Samuel I. Edge, and Maj. Ken Arnold, members of the Alabama National Guard Bureau's 279th Army Field Support Brigade, Huntsville, Ala., look at briefing materials during training at the Army Sustainment Command, Rock Island Arsenal, Ill.

ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. -- A group of Alabama National Guardsmen traveled to the Army Sustainment Command June 11-14 to learn about the command's missions and share its capabilities.
The 10 Soldiers are members of the 279th Army Field Support Brigade, Huntsville, Ala., and the only AFSB in the National Guard Bureau.
"We've got the broad general mission just like everyone else," said Col. Samuel I. Edge, commander of the 279th AFSB. "The single face to the customer for acquisition, logistics and technology. And we've also got the additional mission of the (Defense Support to Civilian Authorities)."
National Guard Soldiers, unlike their active-duty and reserve counterparts, have two broad missions - federal and state, Edge said. The National Guard can be called upon to react to such DSCA contingencies as a Homeland Security event or local emergency, or can be deployed to Southwest Asia to support the Campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The 279th almost was sent to southern Alabama to assist with the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, Edge said. The unit received the call from the state adjutant general to provide command and control support. However, the call came June 5 while the AFSB was preparing to travel to Rock Island the next day. The adjutant general said he would not interfere with the unit's training, so the Soldiers were released to travel to ASC, he said.
The National Guard unit and other AFSBs differ in a couple of areas. The 279th does not have an area of responsibility, Edge said, which gives it the flexibility to support contingencies in the U.S. Army Northern Command as well as augment or backfill behind another AFSB.
The National Guard AFSB's chain of command is unique. The 279th reports to the Alabama National Guard's 167th Theater Sustainment Command, Fort McClellan, Ala., which provides operational logistics command and control within the NORTHCOM area of responsibility, and then through the NGB to ASC.
If deployed, the unit would report to a Theater Sustainment Command, an Expeditionary Sustainment Command, or ASC. The other AFSBs report directly to ASC, Edge said.
The members of the 279th spent the first week of their summer training learning about how ASC operates.
"We're here to gain the training experience so we can better prepare for the AFSB mission," Edge said. "We're getting the overview and also the functional aspects of what our mission is."
During the second week of their training, Edge remained here to attend the ASC Commander's Conference, June 14-18. The other 279th Soldiers, however, traveled to Fort Bragg, N.C., to train with the 406th AFSB, he said.
After their two weeks on the road, the Soldiers will return to Huntsville and continue training on an inactive-duty status, Edge said. In addition to the information they received here, they also have obtained points of contact and offers of assistance from ASC staff.
"A valuable aspect of being here is meeting people who can help us, and then the staff here can better understand what an Army National Guard AFSB can do," he said.
Edge stood up the 279th in June 2007 as a brigade of one, he said. He recruited other Alabama National Guard Soldiers to fill out his Modified Table of Organization and Equipment, the unit's list of authorized personnel and equipment, which is the same as any other AFSB. However, the other AFSBs depend upon augmentation from civilians and contractors to accomplish their missions, Edge said. For example, the 402nd AFSB in Iraq is responsible for thousands of people with the same MTOE.
In civilian life, all but one of the Soldiers is employed by the federal government or a contractor working for the government, either in the National Guard Bureau or the various AMC organizations located in Huntsville, Edge said.
"So they bring expertise to the AFSB more than you would see in a normal National Guard unit," he said.

Page last updated Mon June 21st, 2010 at 16:39