Coles supplies the fight in Afghanistan
U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Lakisha Coles (center), Accountability officer for the Supply Support Activity at Camp Marmal, works with Sgt. Veronica Sanchez to assist a Soldier with hospital supplies. The SSA, Alpha Company, 615th Aviation Support Battalion, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade is a part of the International Security Assistance Force in northern Afghanistan. ISAF Regional Command North supports Afghan National Security Forces in close coordination and collaboration in providing security and disrupting insurgent activities in order to protect the Afghan population.

CAMP MARMAL, Afghanistan (Feb. 20, 2012) -- A Black Hawk mechanic has a repair to make on his helicopter in northern Afghanistan. He needs a replacement part ASAP. Without this part, the Black Hawk will not be mission capable. He is reliant on Chief Warrant Officer 2 Lakisha Coles and her team at the Supply Support Activity in Camp Marmal. Coles knows the crucial role she and her Soldiers play. They supply the fight.

"You have the Soldiers that are out there fighting, and you have the support of the Soldiers who are fighting," Coles said when describing the importance of her job with SSA Alpha Company, 615th Aviation Support Battalion, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, which is based out of Fort Hood, Texas. "If we don't provide them with adequate supplies, how would those vehicles drive without the engines? How would the Chinooks and Black Hawks fly without their supplies? They need us to provide that logistical support so they can get the mission done."

Providing customer support is what brings pride to Coles. This Baltimore native has fine-tuned her logistical skills in the Army for 15 years. She started her career as a private working in the motor pool, and has worked her way up to managing a team of logistic specialists.

"When I had all of that knowledge [of supplies], I said, `You know what? I could probably be a warrant officer!'" said Coles. Warrant officers are technical experts in their career field.

A big smile shines on Coles' face as she describes a picture of her job. "I am Walmart for the Army. Walmart inventories supplies and they issue it out according to the customer's needs. Soldiers are our customers. If there's anything we can do to assist them, that's what we do… every day… 24 hours a day, 7 days a week."

"At the SSA, we provide customer support to Camp Marmal and other surrounding Forward Operating Bases [FOBs]," said Coles. Whether it is construction materials, repair parts, or non-expendable items, the SSA is the Army's logistical one-stop shop. "The supplies we provide are what support us in the fight."

Coles is all too familiar with working in a war zone. Her first deployment was to Camp Anaconda in Iraq in 2003. Currently, this is her third deployment to Afghanistan. She served at Bagram Air Base in 2006 and Forward Operating Base Shank in 2008 where she set up the base's SSA. In each deployment, her motto of helping others has remained the same. "I love helping people. I like customer service," she said.

Along with her customers, Coles also cares about her team. She sees the importance of giving her Soldiers a greater vision for the mission. "I've tried to instill in the Soldiers that everybody plays a role here. If everyone is playing their role, we can better support the customers and the units out there. I try to let them know that each one of their jobs, from the receiving section to the issuing section, to the storage section to the turning section, each one plays a crucial part in the overall mission success."

From ordering vital aircraft parts to hospital supplies, Coles and her team make sure the mission is supplied. The equation is simple: providing supplies equals happy customers.

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Page last updated Fri February 24th, 2012 at 09:44