By Sgt. Sharmain BurchOctober 2, 2017
VILSECK, Germany--Unit pride spread across the formation when Squadron Commander, Lt. Col. Angel Estrada, Regimental Support Squadron, 2d Cavalry Regiment, stood before his Soldiers and announced that the Supply Support Activity platoon in Alpha Troop, has been declared U.S. Army Europe's best.
The official notice came in a memorandum dated Sept. 26, 2017, recognizing the Squadron's SSA team for their hard work, and solidifying them as the winners of USAREUR's Supply Excellence Award Level IV SSA (MTOE) competition.
"Supply Excellence is a big award for supply personnel. It represents command supply discipline. It shows how we handle tasks and supplies to become efficient and that we are doing things the right way," said Sgt. 1st Class Henry O. Aruviereh, SSA platoon sergeant.
They are now given the opportunity to compete against SSA teams across the Army for the Chief of Staff, Army, Supply Excellence Award for Fiscal Year 2017. The Supply Excellence Award is a program conceived in 1984 with objectives to enhance logistical readiness and supply discipline.
But what did it take to get them where they are?
Their journey began with a vision by the SSA's noncommissioned officer in charge, Staff Sgt. Angelica K. Bridges and what she thought her Soldiers should strive toward. She presented the challenge to 1st Lt. Thomas A. Johnson III, SSA Accountable Officer, and off to the finish line they went.
"I thought it would be a good idea to compete because not only are we setting a standard and maintaining the standard but we're doing that in several regions of the world in Europe," said Bridges
Bridges said the journey to their win has been really tough. When they started, many people were doubtful but she said they worked hard.
"The challenge we faced was taking the ample time to organize all the supporting documentation amidst our daily operational dynamic serving all our 132 customers," said Johnson.
Teams were observed in three main areas: how they operate their tasks using Global Combat Service Support-Army, how organized they are at tracking and inventorying supplies, which includes implementing an archived system in accordance with Army standards, and lastly the appearances of their work space. These areas must be mastered before presenting them to U.S. Army Europe inspectors.
But before the rainbow there's rain and RSS's SSA Soldiers learned the amount of dedication they must harness to fulfill their leaders vision.
Bridges said when you're a logistician for the Army you're said to be the team that keeps things moving and this team collectively covered approximately one hundred thousand miles this year, supporting different units into areas throughout the European theater and beyond.
"I thought it was important for us to show everyone that though we're committed to competing, we still had to carry out missions in Poland, in Hungry and several other places. So far we've supported the eFP (enhanced Forward Presence) rotational missions with 2d Squadron and 3d Squadron, 2CR. We've done two rotations of Operation Atlantic Resolve, as well as supported Noble Partner, Saber Junction and Saber Strike," said Bridges.
The named missions are exercises Soldiers participate in to support U.S. Army Europe's "Strong Europe" initiative.
To achieve this level of readiness, it took vigorous discipline among the supply specialty Soldiers. She said the main ingredient in their format was their structure.
Bridges elaborated, "We've been running missions by splitting our stock supplies; having a good percentage of it at our main location and then we authorize 25 percent to be conveniently placed for the units. So, while they are busy with the mission objectives they will have what they need without any unnecessary delay."
This plan has allowed the SSA to provide items that range from a pen or map to an engine as they are needed in real-time. To say the least, competitions instill personal challenges and perpetuate group challenges and overall, this improves a supply system. It's been a long road to the path of victory and it wasn't always crystal clear the RSS Soldiers would be the victors.
"I felt pure excitement for the Soldiers and noncommissioned officers that put in the hard work everyday to be automated logistical specialists." said Johnson "We had great support from the maintenance checks team, support operations, and all the supporting shops."
Their victory represents greater things to come.
Johnson said given how committed RSS Soldiers are to the operation, he feels confident that they have what it takes to win the top competition; the Supply Excellence Award for the U.S. Army.
This SSA team will represent U.S. Army Europe in the Army wide competition against all the SSA's across the Department of Defense. Submission deadline is October 11.
"When we initially started running in this competition, people were saying we haven't won this award in eight years," said Bridges. "But when I saw the memorandum saying that we have won, I want people to know that you can accomplish anything the team is truly committed to."