FORT HOOD, TX -- The 1st Cavalry Division Sustainment Brigade’s combat sustainment support battalion was converted into a division sustainment support battalion here April 16.
The 553rd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, also known as the Gunslingers, was first constituted in 1943 as the 553 Quartermaster Service Battalion and was inactivated in 1945. The unit was then re-designated as the 553rd Supply and Service Battalion and reactivated in 1967 at Fort Hood.
It’s most recent conversion isn’t just a name change, as the battalion’s mission becomes more focused on direct support to the 1st Cavalry Division. Of the battalion’s six companies, four will see some changes, and the remaining two will move to the 13th Expeditionary Sustainment Command later this summer.
Currently the Headquarters and Headquarters company has no organic medical personnel. The battalion’s Soldiers see physicians that are not a part of the battalion formation. The company will be adding a physician's assistant and other medical professionals to service the battalion.
“If you look at the other Brigades, each battalion has their own physician’s assistant officer,” said Maj. Jerry Thomas Jr., Support Operations Officer “So that’s a big plus as far as HHC.”
The 289th Composite Supply Company will become Alpha Company and add fueling abilities to their formation.
“In essence, they are the jack of all trades with the support they provide to the 1st Cavalry Division Supply Support Activity,” says Thomas. “They will also have lift kit ability for heavy material handling,” says Thomas. “You name it and we will have the capability to move and support anything in the division.”
The 602nd Support Maintenance Company focuses on fuel support, and are the maintainers of the division. They will be gaining two additional platoons who will be able to provide field-level maintenance on M1A2 Abrams, and M2A3 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, which is an asset the company currently does not have.
“The great thing about 602nd, soon to be Bravo Company, is that they also provide maintenance support to units that are not a part of the division,” says Thomas. “Those two additional platoons are a huge improvement as far as what we can support in the division, so we are very excited about that,” says Thomas.
The 154th Composite Transportation Company, which is currently deployed, is capable of moving anything in the 1st Calvary Division’s stable. The company’s Heavy Equipment Transport System, which is similar to a civilian semi-truck with a low riding trailer, allows them to move even the heaviest pieces of equipment.
“The unique thing about the 154th, soon to be Charlie Company, is that they are a heavy truck company with a platoon of HETS,” says Thomas. “With the 96th Transportation Company moving to the 13th ESC, we will still be able to support the division with HETS.”
The 96th TC will be joining the 664th Ordnance Company in the move to the 13th ESC.
“Both of these companies provide an operational, almost strategic, mission which supports the Corps.” said Thomas. “So it makes sense that we slice off both of these units to provide support to the III Corps Commander.”
Thomas said his experience in a previous assignment where he worked alongside a team that planned and discussed the various components of the conversion of a CSSB into a DSSB has added great perspective to his role in the 553rd.