CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait Ac"a,! The visit had the usual, formal purposes - assess religious support, meet fellow chaplains, gauge morale and spiritual readiness.

Chaplain (Col.) Kenneth Sampson, Army Materiel Command Chaplain, took away much more from his Apr. 8 - 13 stay with the men and women of AMC and Army Sustainment Command living and working here with the 401st Army Field Support Brigade.

Sampson told a group of contractors working on vehicles here that during his last visit to Southwest Asia the message was about this being a "total Army" of Active and Reserve Component Soldiers.

Today, he said, he gets a different, but equally gratifying message - one of a team made up of service members, Army civilians and the contract workforce that does the lion's share of the maintenance work performed throughout the AMC "footprint."

Part of his time was spent going through the work areas of 2nd Battalion, 401st AFSB, where he gained a new perspective on the scope of operations, and was able to meet in a group setting with approximately 30 joint service members.

"I came here on top of a staff fully engaged - yet folks took time to get me out to see the brigade," he said. "Soldiers, Army Civilians and contractors - it was impressive to see that kind of dedication."

Another highlight of his visit was a tour of the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle processing facility near here, and the opportunity to actually drive one of the huge vehicles around the outside of the building.

He appeared to enjoy the challenge of handling the MRAP, but when talking to Chaplain Sampson it becomes apparent that his favorite activity is getting out at and and talking with Soldiers.

"When I visited the S-POD (Sea Point of Debarkation), I was down in the bowels of an Army ship, an LSV-Four," he said. "There was an Army specialist directing vehicle loading. He was as enthused and excited about his work as any infantryman I have seen."

On the same ship he saw another Soldier at work. "In the engine room, I saw a Sgt. 1st Class in coveralls," he said. "He was fired-up."

Sampson said the command climate in the brigade leads to attitudes like that. "The lack of confusion about the mission is apparent," he said.

When it comes to his assessment of the religious support available to Soldiers and civilian employees, Sampson said that attitudes told him the story. "I visited the (2nd) battalion here in Kuwait today and people invited me to their worship services." He said. "That tells me the support here is strong."

The greatest need conveyed by members of the brigade was their strong desire to have "their own" chaplain to see to their daily spiritual needs, he said.

According to Sampson, the departure of the last brigade chaplain, Chap. (Lt. Col.) David Hann, left a void. He said several members of the brigade remembered the former chaplain and wanted him to return.

"We are going to try and get him back here to support the brigade's change of command in June," said Sampson.

Asked if the brigade would see a full-time chaplain in the near future, AMC's senior chaplain said he was hopeful. "When I get back to the (AMC) headquarters, I'll work with my staff to try and find creative ways to fill the vacancy," he said.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16