By Maj. Jared AucheyJanuary 6, 2015
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (Jan. 6, 2014)-- The 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command, or ESC, commemorated the culmination of its mission with a casing ceremony, Dec. 1, at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan.
The ceremony symbolized the end of operations for the 3rd ESC in Afghanistan. The 3rd ESC was the last to provide single sustainment mission command in Afghanistan and was composed of more than 35,000 Service members, Department of Defense civilians and contractors. They also managed many non-doctrinal responsibilities to include the redistribution, disposal, and retrograde of excess materiel, as well as the de-scope efforts associated with base closures across Afghanistan through U.S. Central Command's Materiel Recovery Element.
The 3rd ESC deployed to Afghanistan in April 2014. The 3rd ESC was responsible for successfully reducing the theater during the final stages of Operation Enduring Freedom and setting the conditions for Operation Resolute Support, beginning in 2015.
The 3rd ESC accomplished, what is seen as arguably the largest and most demanding retrograde of equipment and personnel in the Army's modern era. This is due to the geographical location of Afghanistan and the aggressive timeline to retrograde equipment out of the country by the end of 2014.
Maj. Gen. Darrell K. Williams, commanding general of the 1st Theater Sustainment Command, who reviewed the ceremony, delivered remarks praising the 3rd ESC's accomplishments supporting retrograde and sustainment operations.
"With the outstanding support given here, and the mission you accomplished during the historic final days of the drawdown, you have added to the already rich 3rd ESC legacy," Williams said.
During the deployment, the 3rd ESC managed the closing or transfer of 61 bases, retrograded nearly 5,500 vehicles and more than 105,000 pieces of other equipment, all while sustaining U.S. and coalition forces across Afghanistan's six regional commands.
Brig. Gen. Donnie Walker Jr., commanding general of the 3rd ESC, discussed how Afghanistan is one of the most difficult locations to provide logistics and brought many challenges to the 3rd ESC which its Soldiers had to work tirelessly through to get the job done.
"The Soldiers that comprise these ranks are truly logistical professionals and experts, and believe me, they were put to the test," Walker said.
The 3rd ESC was involved in Ph.D.-level logistics using lessons learned from Iraq to get the mission accomplished. Afghanistan is a landlocked country and to retrograde equipment it was necessary to use every possible transportation node while at the same time placing an emphasis on the stewardship of resources and creating efficiencies.
"We could not have accomplished any of this though without the support of our numerous strategic partners such as the Defense Logistics Agency, United States Transportation Command and Army Materiel Command, [Office of the Secretary of Defense] and the [Department of the Army] staff to name just a few."
"Sustainment is a team sport, and it was an entire enterprise effort that resulted in our strategic and operational successes over this last year of OEF," Walker said.
"I am extremely proud of our team," Walker said. "We have accomplished the mission provided and I know that we are prepared for whatever lies ahead - I am confident there is nothing we can't do."
Walker told the Soldiers standing in formation, "You all should be proud of the enduring, positive legacy you have left in Afghanistan and for upholding the great reputation of the 3d ESC."
He later discussed the monumental tasks that the 3rd ESC team was doing in Kuwait, as part of the 1st Theater Sustainment Command (Operational Command Post) to support operations throughout Central Command's area of responsibility in the Middle East and Southwest Asia. They supported operations in Kuwait, Jordan, Task Force Sinai in Egypt and Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq among many others.
Walker said the success of the mission was due to the Soldiers and their families who supported them. He also noted the great support from the Fort Knox community.
"Throughout our battlefield circulations it was clearly evident that the centerpiece of success was our young men and women who worked diligently to accomplish the mission in some very austere environments," said Command Sgt. Maj. Edward A. Bell, command sergeant major of the 3rd Sustainment Command Expeditionary and Tarboro, North Carolina native, following the ceremony.
"We were truly a team of teams comprised of all services along with DOD employees and contractors, who made mission by living by our watch words of maintaining "standards and discipline" in all we do," Bell said.
The Soldiers from the 3rd ESC successfully completed their deployment to Afghanistan and will soon be completing their mission in Kuwait. The 3rd ESC will continue to provide exceptional logistical support in current and future operations.