By Capt. Matthew St ClairAugust 26, 2019
Marijampole, Lithuania - Alexander the Great once said, "My logisticians know if my campaign fails, they are the first ones I will slay." This is a powerful statement that underlines the importance of logistics. Although the U.S. Army doesn't practice what Alexander preached in terms of punishment, they do understand the importance of logistics in winning a battle, campaign, or even a war.
Soldiers from the Supply Support Activity Platoon, Alpha Company, 601st Aviation Support Battalion, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division are currently playing an integral part in the U.S. Army's European supply network. The platoon of 24 Soldiers maintains a strategic hub of parts to help keep U.S. Army helicopters flying throughout Europe.
"Right now we support all of the CAB throughout Europe," said Warrant Officer Viktor Ojebode, the accountability officer for the SSA Platoon, Alpha Company, 601st Aviation Support Battalion, 1st Combat Aviation brigade. "We first setup in Illesheim (Germany) and were running into some challenges. It would take a long time to get parts from Illesheim to Romania and Latvia, so the decision was made to bring the SSA here to Lithuania to give us the flexibility to support our units."
By standing up the SSA in Lithuania, the U.S. Army and 1st CAB are able to get parts and equipment to all of their rotational locations in Eastern Europe relatively quickly.
Although the SSA provides a logistical support hub for 1st CAB, it also serves as a shining symbol of partnership between the U.S. Army, and NATO allies like Lithuania. "We've helped the Lithuanians move containers about 300 miles north, and we will typically help them with anything they might need," said 2nd Lt. Shameen Bonnick, the SSA Platoon Leader. "The same goes for us. If our mechanics ever need an extra tool, they can just go up to the Lithuanians and borrow one of theirs."
In addition to often working together and helping each other out, the SSA Platoon and Lithuanian soldiers will often spend free time together, playing sports, conducting physical training, or even going out on the local economy together. Bonnick said, "We had a great organizational day with the Lithuanians where we played soccer and basketball together. The soldiers all really liked it." Ojebode went on to add that, "It's been fun. We get to experience another culture and another city. The people are friendly and they really like having us here."
The SSA was established in May and will be packing up in the near future along with the rest of 1st CAB, in order to make the redeployment back to Fort Riley, KS. Alpha Company, 601st Aviation Support Battalion is currently on a rotation in Europe as part of the 1st Combat Aviation Brigade during their Atlantic Resolve mission.