DAKAR, Senegal (Dec. 1, 2014) -- After weeks of preparation, the main body elements of the 21st Theater Sustainment Command headquarters, 7th Civil Support Command, the 30th Medical Brigade and the 16th Sustainment Brigade, deployed here, in support of Operation United Assistance.

The team's mission in Dakar is to provide strategic logistical support to the Joint Forces Command - United Assistance in the form of a regional support element, coupled with a small team from U.S. Army Africa. Their goal was to set the conditions in Dakar to receive members from the 101st Sustainment Brigade, and a U.S. Air Force C-130 squadron. The first members of the Regional Support Element-United Assistance, referred to as the RSE-UA, arrived in mid-October, tasked with bridging the gap between U.S. Army Africa and the 101st Sustainment Brigade.

They were also tasked with establishing a life support area, or LSA, and an intermediate staging base for equipment and personnel.

"We [the first group] came in and started building the LSA and setting the stage for units to come in after us," said Maj. Tomasz E. Zaremba, the RSE-UA assistant liaison officer and a native of Buffalo, New York. "Our number one priority was to set the conditions for other units and services to come here and begin their mission in support of United Assistance."

The establishment of an LSA required coordination with the host government and creating contracts for services. The U.S. Army Africa and RSE-UA team partnered with other organizations in Senegal for land on a Senegalese Air Base and instituted contracts to clear, level and develop the land. They also contracted for Force Provider showers, bathrooms, laundry machines and living tents to house up to 300 multi-service personnel, said Maj. Tyler D. Olsen, the RSE-UA logistics officer and a native of Mennephi, Utah.

"The U.S. Army Africa team that came before us had already started most of the processes to acquire the land and institute the contracts; we continued to work with them, the project managers and the contracting team from the 414th Contracting Support Brigade to see this project to fruition," said Olsen. "The credit for all of this really goes to those teams. Everyone worked extremely hard to make this happen."

The team also bridged the gap for strategic and operational level logistics by providing leadership and management of the LSA, while awaiting the arrival of the 101st Sustainment Brigade. They received incoming and outgoing passengers, ensured the LSA was stocked with food and drinking water, coordinated for fuel and gave traveling personnel a place to live.

"This is where we really showed how valuable the 21st Theater Sustainment Command can be; we provided theater level logistical support while simultaneously managing the LSA," Olsen said.

When the main body of 21st TSC personnel arrived, they immediately established a tactical operations center and began improving the communications capabilities at the LSA. The team will remain in place until the 101st Sustainment Brigade assumes the mission.

"The Soldiers and all of our joint and multinational partners have done an outstanding job accomplishing the mission and supporting Operation United Assistance," said Col. Barry Diehl, the RSE-UA officer in charge. "We will maintain our mission focus and sharpen our skills until our change of mission and redeployment."