By Staff Sgt. Christopher McCulloughOctober 10, 2013
YAKIMA TRAINING CENTER, Wash. - Amateurs think tactics, professionals think logistics. That's the motto of the Soldiers assigned to 296th Brigade Support Battalion, 3-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division.
"Two-nine-six is the backbone of the Arrowhead Brigade; we will often go without so that the brigade can be supported," said the Commander of B Company, 296 BSB, Cpt. Jonathon Reams, a native of Charles City, Iowa. "We have totally restructured our footprint within the (brigade support area) to free up generators, tents and ECUs to provide to the rest of the brigade and battalion to support the missions out here at YTC."
The BSB concept was born in the mid-1990s and in the two decades since has become the hub of the U.S. Army and brigade combat teams throughout. The 3-2 SBCT logistician, Maj. Dennis Fajardo, of Miami, Fla., said, "296 BSB is very important. (Logistics is) a staff shop that do all the coordinating and planning that it wants, but if it doesn't have the boots on the ground to make it happen it's all for nothing."
While it's easy to go into one place and support 4,000 people if you have enough food, fuel, water, and such, it becomes significantly more difficult when those 4,000 people are spread out several different locations, Fajardo said.
"Then they spread out into company areas and further out, and you've got the same number of people to support them, then you've got to start getting creative ... and that's where logisticians start getting creative," Fajardo said.
Many Soldiers unfamiliar with the make-up of a BSB only know it to deliver beans, bullets, benzene and Band-Aids, but there's more to 296 BSB than just these four segments. Indeed food, ammo, fuel and medical aid are important, but they're not all that the BSB supplies, nor are they supplied by one entity.
According to the U.S. Army's own field manual, FM 4-90, a BSB "plans, coordinates, synchronizes and executes replenishment operations in support of brigade operations."
It adds that the support is distributed among three companies: a distribution company, a field maintenance company, and a medical company. That way no one company is overwhelmed by the logistical needs of the brigade, however cohesive or spread-out it may be.
Cpt. Joe Carlos II, commander, A Company, 296 BSB, from Atlanta, Ga., explained the process originates with the Support Operations Officer from Headquarters and Headquarters Company.
"The SPO will push down any type of mission that (meets the) requirements, like personnel, and what we have on hand, then figure out the best way to get it out there utilizing those assets in order to support the maneuver elements on the battlefield," Carlos said.
Once the requirements are met, and the operations orders are released, it's then up to the maintenance company to determine that equipment needed for the operation is available and set.
"Maintenance is put on the backburner until comes times to need it, and that's when (B Company) comes in as the heavy hitters for the brigade making sure that last minute checks - whether it's equipment, vehicles, weapon systems, generators, (electronic control units) - are up and running so that the brigade can support the mission," Reams said.
Once the fuel and ammo are present, and the equipment is up and running, the brigade's battalions can go about conducting their mission, whether that's a training exercise or a real-world operation. Unfortunately, Soldiers have been injured in the course of duty before, which is why the third lynchpin in the BSB concept is the medical company.
Their purpose is simple. They provide whatever medical needs the Arrowhead Brigade's Soldiers are in need of, to include trauma response, dental, radiology, behavioral health, physical therapy, and lab work.
"(C Company) gives confidence to the trigger pullers that, no matter what, they can go without hesitation into a dark room to clear a house, to act on the objective, knowing that (in the event something goes wrong) that they're going to receive the best medical treatment by the best highly trained medic Soldiers in the Army."
At the end of the day, logisticians and the people that work for them fulfill essential functions within the Arrowhead Brigade and the U.S. Army.