BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - In mid-January 2019, members of the 1st Infantry Division Sustainment Brigade, Ft. Riley, Kansas, began their transition to the country of Afghanistan in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel. The brigade reflagged to the Resolute Support Sustainment Brigade, RSSB, once all deploying members arrived in-country. Nine months later, the unit is ready to return home.
There have been several major changes to the brigade during the deployment. The brigade command team transitioned to new leadership, as well as the Special Troops Battalion commander moving on to a new assignment. The mission never changed nor did the expectations of the new command team. As focus shifted at higher echelons, the RSSB's mission was to sustain America's forces, and its allies, regardless of the situation.
Col. Brian Olson, commander of the Resolute Support Sustainment Brigade, Bagram, Afghanistan, believes the effort of all members of the RSSB played a pivotal role in the success of the 'Durable Brigade' mission.
"Our units, comprised of a National Guard battalion, Army Reserve battalion, Active Component battalion, and permanent party battalion, create a synergy I'd have a hard time believing if I didn't see it daily," Olson said. "As the senior U.S. sustainment command in Afghanistan, the brigade has been highly effective at providing sustainment to the U.S. Joint Forces, our Coalition partner forces, and multinational Special Operations Forces, while supporting the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces throughout the country."
Olson attributes the RSSB's mission success to the leaders within the unit.
"Leadership attributes center around positive character, competence in our specialties, and commitment to the profession of arms," Olson said. "Leading in complex missions in austere wartime environment(s) is challenging. Our leaders developed emotional and professional maturity, perseverance, and a good sense of humor. I've been pleased to witness individual Soldiers develop into skilled leaders and experts evolve into a professional team-of-teams."
The Command Sergeant Major of the RSSB, Cmd. Sgt. Maj. Dion Lightner, has a vision for all 'Durable Soldiers' once the unit returns home.
"Being a good steward of the Fort Riley community as Army ambassadors through volunteerism and living the Army Values both on duty and off duty is how we will return home," Lightner said. "We are working to kick off a program that will allow our Soldiers the opportunity for self-improvement in both PME (primary military education) and Civilian education. I am looking to create the 'durable college credit program' internally that allows our Ordnance, Human Resources, Adjutant General, Quartermaster, Transporters and other logisticians the opportunity to take college classes during an extended lunch period that will earn them college credits and maintain combat readiness during each duty day. This will require some of our leaders with degrees already to help invest in our formation that of which has already be given, 'Be the example' It's a win for all."
While deployed several sections saw turnover. Maj. Sharleen Morgan arrived to assume the role of officer-in-charge of the Human Resources (HR) section, S1.
"Training the subordinate units on the interoperability of HR functions is essential," Morgan said. Morgan cited the importance of building lasting relationships across multiple echelons and service components. "My hopes were that the staff would teach me what was working. I could share my professional expertise and experiences in the areas of productivity, predictability, and meeting the commander's intent, ultimately resulting in timely, accurate, and predictive HR services."
An additional family member is Sgt. 1st Class Kari Maticic, senior supply sergeant Resolute Support Sustainment Brigade, Bagram, Afghanistan. Maticic joined the unit a week before it deployed but has found her place within the family.
"The most rewarding experience for me this deployment, and all throughout my career, is my job is always the same," Maticic said. "I love supporting all the service members that fall under me no matter what level I am working. It motivates me every single day to support the troops with all the supplies that they need for any mission they have at hand. I know with the supplies and equipment that I am able to request, receive and issue/transfer...it is only making our force stronger to be successful with every challenge that comes our way."
Now that it is time to return home, everyone has a message of love or commitment to the community to share.
"The one thing I can't wait to do when I get back is spend time with my kiddos," Maticic said. "We have a bunch of plans already made to add onto all the memories we have already made together that I cherish the most in this world."
The community is also very important to the 'Durable Brigade' and Morgan wants to become a major part of the unit's partnerships upon returning home.
"Mentoring in any adopt-a-school program; assisting chaplains in programs; involving myself on volunteer activities for young adults to ensure they are better prepared for their future is part of my plan once we arrive back home," Morgan said.
"The Flint Hills community is incredibly supportive of our military and even though I and my family have only lived there a year, it feels like home," Olson said. "The Sustainment Brigade has a special relationship with the K-State Women's Basketball team and our two battalions have a great partnership with eleven different schools in Wabaunsee, Mission Valley, and Manhattan/Ogden school districts. I look forward to assisting our companies in enhancing those relationships while enjoying all that the community has to offer."