Transportation Coordinator for 530th CSSB all smiles on the job
April 12, 2011
FORWARD OPERATING BASE DEHI DADI II, Afghanistan - The first noticeable thing about Pfc. Tammi Smith is her eager, cheerful personality and her smile.
She's a Transportation Coordinator for the 530th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, and responsible for coordinating all ground and air vehicle movements from the Forward Operating Base Dehi Dadi II for her battalion in and around Regional Command-North.
It's a job normally reserved for a junior non-commissioned officer, and not some fresh-faced, 23-year-old fresh faced Soldier only 15 months into her career and on her first deployment. Sometimes movements (especially flights) don't always go as planned, and can frustrate everyone involved.
The Backus, Minn., native, however, keeps her chin up and a smile on her face, and said she's up for the challenge.
"I've never worked with any other private, and this is a lot of responsibility," Smith said. "But it's pretty easy. It's a lot of work and it's fast paced, but it's simple."
The 530th CSSB, based out of Fort Lee, Va., recently replaced the 87th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion at FOB Dehi Dadi II, and are attached to the 101st Sustainment Brigade during their year-long deployment to Afghanistan.
Smith said she's used to carrying heavy loads and responsibility. Her Army career began following a stint at a private Bible College in Iowa while working two full-time jobs. The desire for stability in her life prompted her decision, she said.
"That, and a guaranteed paycheck," Smith said. "I was in college for two or three years, and had my own apartment, but it started getting harder and harder to make it because the economy started getting worse and worse."
Smith said she ended up moving back home to Minnesota, where she got two more full-time jobs, but did not attend college, while she was in the process of enlisting in the military.
"It was a career. I wanted something more stable. I needed to stabilize myself," she said.
Her decision inadvertently has become a family affair: Smith said she has a brother serving in the Navy, a younger sister who serves in the Air Force, and even had an uncle who served in the Marine Corps.
"I figured, 'hey, if they can do, I can do,'" she said. "Every service is represented."
Smith entered basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C., and completed her Advanced Individual Training at Fort Eustis, Va. Her assignment to Fort Lee is her first, just in time for their deployment to Afghanistan.
"When I first heard we were going, I was really excited, but I also thought, 'oh crap! I'm going to Afghanistan,'" she said.
She said so far the deployment's going well.
"I haven't heard anybody complain about the living conditions or working. We have it really good here," she said.
Her job at FOB Dehi Dadi II consists of long days and nights. The Transportation section attends the nightly convoy briefings to ensure each Soldier has their proper equipment, as well as everything they need for their ground movement. Smith also schedules and coordinates flights to and from FOB DDII.
"We're their double eyes," she said. "We make sure that their vehicles are straight."
Her day starts at 6:30 a.m., and on average ends at 8:30 p.m. One of their team members was transferred to Bagram Air Field, and has added extra work on her and her supervisor.
"It's tiring, but it makes the say go by fast," she said. "That means the deployment will go by faster."
Smith also praise for her boss for his support. "He takes really good care of me," she said.
Smith said she is undecided if she'll stay in the Army, but adds she wants to become a warrant officer if she does.