By Jim Hinnant, 401st Army Field Support BrigadeSeptember 5, 2008
FOB SHARANA, Afghanistan (Aug. 17, 2008) Ac"a,! After the nearly 100-mile flight from Bagram Airfield, and shortly after "Snap 66" - a CASA-212, Short Takeoff and Landing aircraft, had come to a stop on the ramp adjacent to the airstrip here, Brian Cafferty, U.S. Army Communications and Electronics Command Power Generation and Environmental Control Unit Logistics Assistance Representative rolled up planeside, in a Gator All-Terrain Vehicle.
After determining who the folks wearing Army Combat Uniforms with Army Materiel Command Shoulder Sleeve Insignia were - Cafferty immediately demonstrated the attitude and "lean forward" approach that typifies the members of the "Task Force Currahee" Brigade Logistics Support Team who call FOB Sharana home.
Dropping off the passenger he brought to the airfield in his ATV, Cafferty rumbled off to notify BLST chief, Maj. Matthew Metcalf, that he had visitors from the 401st Army Field Support Brigade headquarters.
Such an immediate response is the norm for the team which is from the AFSB's Task Force Victory, and provides area support from here and FOB Salerno, to the 101st Airborne Division task force built around the 506th Infantry Regiment, and other units conducting operations in Southeastern Afghanistan.
While primarily dedicated to TF Currahee, Metcalf and his split-based team work in support of all units in the Currahee Area of Operations. This includes TF Castle - built around a combat engineer brigade, Provincial Reconstruction Teams or "PRTs" in the AO, and any other tenant units in the area.
"I describe our primary mission as being a national-level logistics backup to Task Force Currahee's, 801st Brigade Support Battalion," said Metcalf. "We are their single point of contact for any issues related to Army Materiel Command support."
If Metcalf is the face of AMC to the units in the area, the LARs that make up his team are the face of the various Life Cycle Management Commands each of these technical experts represent.
In addition to Department of the Army civilians from CECOM at both FOBs, units needing logistics help can turn to LARs from the U.S. Army's Tank-automotive and Armaments Command for automotive or armaments issues, Aviation and Missile Command for army aircraft or missile system concerns and Joint Munitions command for anything to do with ammunition.
According to Cafferty, the FOB LAR's role is to provide immediate advice and assistance to units in need, "reach back" to master technicians in theater, and to work issues through knowledge sharing and problem solving.
LIFE ON THE FOB
Being a member of the Sharana team means doing what one can to improve life for everyone on the FOB, which is on a windswept piece of terrain at an altitude of nearly eight thousand feet above sea level.
Returning from a "FOB hop" to Salerno, Cafferty found the Sharana television system, which is capable of picking up nine Armed Forces Network channels, down to three, and the radio signal also failing to work as planned.
Doing some satellite dish alignment and receiver work in the closet-sized space housing all the electronics, Cafferty got the systems back to full capability, receiving unit coins from the BSB and 62nd Engineer Battalion Command Sergeants Major for his quality of life efforts on behalf of Soldiers.
Metcalf and the Currahee BLST put in long days at FOBs Sharana and Salerno - while hoping for a little "make you own fun" entertainment like the occasional Morale, Welfare and Recreation event, or a performance by the BSB's own band, for which, by the way, Metcalf is the new drummer.
TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS
But, business comes first, says Metcalf, and his relationship with the BSB and Task Force his team supports is a rare opportunity to have a direct impact while learning about national level logistics and the Logistics Assistance Program while interacting directly with LARs.
According to Metcalf, he has recently fielded requests for information regard ing the National Reset Program from the BSB commander. The Reset Program is designed to cycle a homeward-bound unit's battle-weary equipment through depot facilities in CONUS and prepare it for future deployment.
Asked what the future holds for the BLST at Sharana and Salerno FOBs, Metcalf said they will continue to support the units in the area, and as time goes by, help them with redeployment issues.
"I sit in each morning's BSB logistics update, see their challenges and see the relationship (between our organizations)," he said. "We have many of the same issues, and can take advantage of the synergy we have developed."