Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington -- Soldiers of the 24th Composite Supply Co., 13th Combat Support Sustainment Battalion, conducted the unit's first ever "jump" of total supply support activities to a training area here Jan. 20 to Jan. 26.
In Army parlance, "jump" refers to the tactical relocation of operations from one location to the next. For the 24th CSC, it meant moving operations, including all equipment and supply stock, from permanent structures near the logistics gate to the austerity of a field site at Training Area 12 here, with minimal impact to the seven brigades that draw supply from the SSA.
The goal was to assess the mobility index of the SSA, gauge its readiness posture, and obtain solutions to meet and exceed the standards of the Army.
It seemed just short of impossible, according to platoon leadership.
For the Soldiers in the SSA, this opportunity was not only to be their first in terms of moving stock, but also their first time being in a field environment. Leaders did their best to prepare the very young and inexperienced platoon of 24 Soldiers for the field.
"They had accepted the challenge, the Soldiers were excited, anxious and ready to prove their worth beyond the walls of their usual workplace," said 2nd Lt. Ornella Brierre, SSA platoon leader.
Once they arrived on site in the morning of Jan. 20, the SSA platoon immediately began establishing base defenses. In a few hours they had stretched triple-strength c-wire around the perimeter, set-up the command post and secured the two entry control points, Brierre said.
Next, the Soldiers established the different sections of the SSA, putting up the tents, downloading parts and supplies and continued to refine the security posture of the area. The platoon worked with little rest through the weekend in order to be ready and open for business Jan. 22 at 8 a.m.
At 8:45 a.m., the SSA served its first customer, the 657th Forward Support Company, 301st Brigade Support Battalion, 17th Field Artillery Brigade.
The platoon supported 12 customers out in the field Jan. 22 while also performing clear and search procedures and camouflage training.
"We should be able to adapt to any environment and still be able to carry on with our duty," said Sgt. Antonio Crew, the SSA stock control non-commissioned officer in charge. "We completely demolished our task."
Even as they supported customers in the field, the Soldiers honed their individual and team fighting skills by practicing chemical and biological defense drills, casualty carries and perimeter defensive measures.
Leaders noted a couple of tools that made the operation more efficient -- a newly-fielded ruggedized computer tablet that interfaces with the Global Combat Support System-Army network, and field packing units that simplified the SSA's movement and storage of supplies.
"The ability to be have wireless connection with the VSAT allowed Soldiers to fully take advantage of being mobile within their area of operation," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Raul A. Almendarez, the SSA supply technician. The large touch screen, weatherproof and rugged body didn't falter under JBLM's constant rain and winds, he said.
"The Soldiers were able to work outside their protective tents, assisting customers during their transactions and (did not have) to worry about equipment damage."
The field packing units also played a vital role in the SSA's ability to move its equipment and stock to the field. The FPUs are 20 ft. containers configured to allow easy loading of palletized equipment with forklifts.
"The FPUs provided us with maximum storage space, reduced our operational footprint out in the field, increased efficiency by maximizing the modular inserts and enhanced our mobility in making the SSA an expeditionary asset," Almendarez said.
The Soldiers in this platoon have never been prouder of the work they do, what they mean to the supply distribution chain, and how important they are to overall combat readiness for their customers, Brierre said.
The SSA platoon sergeant, Sgt. 1st Class Rodrigo Aguilar, agreed.
"There were many who had low expectations for this field problem, but I am so proud of each and every one of you, because you made history and exceeded the standard for our SSA," Aguilar told the SSA Soldiers after a week in the field.
"This jump would simply not have been possible without the SSA's hard working Soldiers," Brierre said. "As leaders, we would like express our greatest thanks to them, for showing their grit, their pride and their excellence as logisticians in the United States Army."