By Spc. Howard Alperin, MND-B PAOApril 6, 2009
CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq - Logistics are an invaluable piece to the Army's strength. Without a proper supply of ammunition, uniforms, food, generators, parts to repair vehicles, and many other things, missions would go poorly for Soldiers and success would be hard fought. Supplying the warfighters with whatever they may need, so they can focus on the enemy in front of them, has been the goal for the 154th Transportation Company since their arrival in Iraq.
In April, the 154th Transportation Co. will leave Camp Liberty after three months here to serve the remainder of their deployment in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Just as they did while working here, they will provide sustainment support to their home forward operating base in Afghanistan and surrounding FOBs.
"Our mission stays the same, only the location changes," said Sgt. 1st Class Frederick Cook, from Birmingham, Ala., a truck master and non-commissioned officer in charge of operations for the 154th Transportation Co., 553rd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 10th Sustainment Brigade, 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command.
The newest mission has brought an already tight-knit group even closer together. While in Iraq, prior to learning about going to Afghanistan, there were competitions between platoons on who was doing the most assignments and traveling the most miles, said Spc. Renata Hirschauer, from Daytona, Fla., an operations clerk for the 154th Transportation Co. Since they found out about going to Afghanistan in March, the competition ceased. Now, the focus for the company is everybody helping each other on packing and getting ready for the move, she said.
Besides packing for the move, the unit must prepare for one major difference they will face in Afghanistan: road conditions.
"NCOs who have been to Afghanistan have been breaking down what to expect in terrain differences," said Spc. Tyrell Powell, from Shreveport, La., a truck driver for the 154th Transportation Co. "Here everything tends to be flat, there it's more hilly and mountainous."
Also, Soldiers are anxious to find out how their new motor pool will look. Here the 154th had their own motor pool with plenty of room to move vehicles around, said Powell. "In Afghanistan, we don't know if we will be sharing a motor pool and we don't know how our operational space will be situated," he added.
As their time here winds down, the training for Afghanistan is getting revved up. Soldiers have already done refresher classes on the Movement Tracking System, the map reading element used in the cabs of the vehicles, and Soldiers are also re-qualifying on various weapons, Powell mentioned.
Additionally, the new mission requires gunner crews of the 154th to train up on operating Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicles to ensure safety and operation success on convoys, Powell said. "Gunner trucks are getting reorganized and ready for Afghanistan," he said. While here, Gunners had been doing other jobs in the company instead of their gunner jobs, he added.
Soldiers are expected to get more improvised explosive device training and more briefs on situational awareness as well, said 1st Lt. Angela Davis, from Chidester, Ark., first platoon leader for the 154th. "We haven't had enemy encounters here and the threats are higher there now, so it is important Soldiers get as many classes to explain the threats prior to leaving," she said.
Though going from one theater of operations to another can put strain on a unit, the 154th is pulling together and is determined to do great things in Afghanistan. "Being here in Iraq and getting used to the elements, used to the missions and cargo loads has postured us to be successful on our next mission," said Capt. Corrine McClellan, from Gloucester, Va., commander of the 154th Transportation Co.
As the 154th Transportation Co. goes from Operation Iraqi Freedom to Operation Enduring Freedom, Soldiers are growing and learning more together each day while accepting their newest challenge with optimism and pride.