FOB Connolly Soldiers keep servicemembers rolling
November 27, 2010
NANGAHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan - The Soldiers of D Troop, 1st Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment's distribution platoon wear many hats.
These troops of Forward Operating Base Connolly have a wide range of duties. Some days they are on a combat logistical patrol, another day they may be part of the quick reaction force responding to a threat to the COB.
Troop D is part of 4th Brigade Combat Team (Task Force Currahee), 101st Airborne Division, but is attached to 1st Brigade Combat Team (Task Force Bastogne).
They can provide transportation for the explosive ordnance disposal team, work to recover a disabled vehicle or secure a sling-load to a helicopter in support of an air assault mission.
Regardless of the hat they wear during day-to-day operations, the Soldiers stay busy, said Army 2nd Lt. Thomas Csala of Rising Sun, Md., Troop D's distribution platoon leader.
"They're a hardworking group of individuals," Csala said. "Delta Troop's primary mission is to provide logistical support to the 1st Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment and all its assets throughout Task Force Panther. My Soldiers face a lot of different challenges. They handle a lot of responsibilities, not to mention the dangers they face doing the jobs they do, going out there with the threat of (improvised explosive devices), rocket-propelled grenades and all the other threats."
One of the platoon's main missions is running combat logistics patrols. During the CLPs, the platoon's Soldiers, which include a large number of truck drivers, form a convoy from FOB Connolly to FOB Fenty to deliver and pick up supplies, including mail.
"You can look at it like a post office," Csala said. "We go to the big post office (at FOB Fenty) and get the mail, then push it down to the smaller recipients."
U.S. Army Sgt. Thomas J. Adams of Lufkin, Texas, a truck driver with the distribution platoon, said he especially enjoys his job because it directly affects the other Soldiers on FOB Connolly.
"I like what we do; getting the mail, in particular, because it builds up the morale of the other Soldiers," said Adams, who has been a truck driver nearly four years. "We're here to support the cavalry and infantry guys and do whatever we can to make their missions a little bit easier. That little bit of mail they get, or stuff from home, really means a lot."
Csala said the distribution platoon will typically run between two to three CLPs each week. The convoys make for a long day. Though the trip between the two FOBs usually takes only an hour to an hour and a half depending on the amount of supplies the platoon is hauling, the loading, unloading and preparation makes for a much longer mission.
Csala said since the platoon arrived in Afghanistan in September, it's logged almost 10,000 miles on the road. Additionally, the platoon hauled more than 715 tons of cargo. Luckily, they admit, their platoon has not had any incidents of IEDs or RPG fire yet.
"You can attribute a lot of that to the Soldiers and their training," Csala said. "They're constantly being vigilant out there on the road."
When they're not out on the road hauling freight between FOBs, Csala said his platoon is on stand-by for the QRF.
"We could get a call at any time on the radio saying something's happened; someone attacked the FOB or something, and we'll need to go," Csala said. "So we always need to maintain a (high) state of readiness."
If called upon, Csala said the platoon must be mounted up in their trucks in full body armor with their personal and mounted weapon systems calibrated and ready to roll out of the gate within a short amount of time.
He said his platoon performs constant battle drills to ensure they're able to achieve this, adding that they've reduced their reaction time by more than half since they first began the battle drills.
"We're the kind of platoon that doesn't just focus on the mission we're doing, we're also thinking ahead to the next mission," Csala said. "We're trying to make things easier for the next mission."
"We perform (preventive maintenance checks and services) on our vehicles on a daily basis," Adams said. "We make sure no leaks or any other problems have formed overnight."
But it doesn't end there for distribution platoon. There are also the explosive ordnance disposal team escorts and recovery missions, not to mention other taskings given to the Soldiers on the base.
"If a vehicle get hits by an IED, or ... it goes down, we're tasked to escort the recovery asset, provide a safe hook-up and return to the FOB safely," Csala explained.
Csala said the Soldiers train constantly on recovering vehicles, keeping current on the latest tactics, techniques and procedures on the subject.
"We've had a lot of practice doing it," Csala said. "At some point, we've had to go out and recover a vehicle from every troop so far, but most of our training was conducted prior to deploying here."
Finally, the distribution platoon also distributes ammunition to the squadron.
"Since we've been here, we've issued 179,990 rounds," Csala said.
So the next time you think you're busy, think about the Soldiers of distribution platoon. Csala said his Soldiers work tirelessly to haul the supplies that keep the rest of the base going.