CAMP AS SAYLIYAH, Qatar - As the drawdown and base closures in Afghanistan continue, the need for sustainment operations to facilitate the process increases.
In response to this growing need for logistical support, the 1st Sustainment Command (Theater) dispatched a command element to Qatar.
Consequently, the needs to effectively develop operations lead 1st TSC Soldiers to diligently work together since July to design and construct a Sustainment Operations Center.
"The function of a SOC can best be described as the "brain" of operations because information from higher headquarters, subordinate units and different staff sections from within the command flow to the SOC," said Capt. Nestor Carrasquillo, Battle Captain, Command Post-Qatar, 1st TSC. "Command and control operations occur in the SOC. We ensure the information gets to where it needs to go and provide facilities for planning, monitoring and directing tactical operations."
Upon arriving at Command Post-Qatar, Lt. Col. John A. Salo, Deputy Operations Officer 1st TSC, established the need to quickly and efficiently develop a plan to construct the SOC in distinct phases.
"In order to monitor day-to-day operations to ensure that the strategic goals and the tactical needs are being met in Afghanistan, I ushered our operations team into the designated SOC area and explained my vision," said Salo.
During the walk through of the area, it became apparent to Carrasquillo and Master Sgt. Juan A. Soliz, Command Post-Qatar, Operations noncommissioned officer in charge, that a collective effort from everyone was needed.
Soliz said the area was an abandoned server room that had been labeled "future SOC" and was cluttered with piles of boxes, mismatched furniture and eight server stacks that each reached seven feet in height.
"We started with nothing but containers full of stuff," said Salo. "We knew it was going to be a collective effort of moving things around and getting communications set up."
The team quickly moved from the first phase of planning and procuring equipment into the second phase, the assembly of the SOC. Soliz inventoried equipment and Carrasquillo created a digital room layout.
Carrasquillo realized his team needed additional assistance with the configuration, so he employed Sgt. 1st Class Terri L. Birch, Command Post-Qatar, Operations Battle noncommissioned officer, to pull up floor tiles and run communication wires within the SOC.
"With the help of different sections, it was my goal to recreate a fusion cell where everyone will be brought together in one room and information flows freely throughout the SOC," said Birch.
Birch went on to say they couldn't have moved on to the third phase without the quick response of the Command Post-Qatar's communications team. "They were there to assist in the relocation of the server stacks and ensure that all communication wires were arranged correctly."
The third phase consisted of moving into the SOC and establishing a communication system that was fully operational. Carrasquillo said, while there were some hiccups during this phase, the battle desk is currently operational and section support personnel have begun moving into the SOC.
"The priority of work right now is base closures, resizing the theater and meeting different phase marks," Salo said. "We will be able to provide value to sustainment units in Afghanistan to enable them to do their mission better and easier."
Salo added, the final phase is currently in progress and hopes to have the SOC fully operational within the next couple of months. Besides adding a few cosmetic features to the SOC and building upon required technology, the building continues to improve on a daily basis and the goal is attainable.
"When we turn this over to our replacement unit, I would like them to be able to walk into a turnkey operation where everything is functional [and] communications never go down," Salo said. "They will be able to step right in, take over and build upon what we have built so far to better what is happening in Afghanistan."
It was through vision and teamwork that the construction of the SOC has come this far. "It's certainly not a one-man show; there was a lot of help from a lot of people," said Salo. "The success so far is from suggestions, setting things up, adjusting as we go and remaining flexible."