Story by 1st Lt. Christina Winters (205th Theater Public Affairs Support Element)
SAN ANTONIO - In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 4th Expeditionary Sustainment Command has deployed over 20 teams throughout the nation in support of federal vaccination efforts.
These Forward Assessment Sustainment Teams have been responsible for providing multi-component logistical support to military medical service providers assisting at state-run community vaccination centers in over 20 different states and territories, allowing the providers to focus on their mission.
The effectiveness of the 4th ESC FAST support efforts is largely due to the hard work and dedication of the first-line leaders and Soldiers who have been deployed to vaccination sites since the beginning of the pandemic response.
One such leader, 1st Lt. Earnisa Brent, is the officer in charge of Forward Assessment Sustainment Team 7, also known as “FAST 7 -- St. Louis.”
A native of San Antonio, Brent received her commission through the Army ROTC program at Prairie View A&M.
Teamed with two Soldiers from the 1st Infantry Division Sustainment Brigade from Fort Riley, Kansas, Brent and her team of 2 Soldiers supports Navy medical service providers at the Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis, Missouri.
The 140 Navy personnel supporting the St. Louis CVC arrived on April 2.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, a Type 1 vaccination team can administer up to 6,000 vaccinations a day, while a Type 2 Team can administer up to 3,000 vaccinations a day. FAST 7 -- St. Louis is a Type 2 team.
Two areas of assessment and support that Brent is responsible for are implementing government contracts and logistical support for the service members on the ground in St. Louis.
Along with her team, Brent ensures that the military medical service providers have lodging, meals and transportation. This contributes to mission success.
Brent said that she volunteered for the mission to get more experience and to do something that was challenging.
“When I first got into ROTC, I thought that being a leader would mean making decisions in the heat of the moment, but what I learned is that everything is planned, pre-planned, and then you execute,” Brent said.
Another first-line leader, 1st Lt. Maryna Williams was first deployed to Medford, Oregon as the officer in charge of FAST 27. She later deployed to Memphis as the lead for FAST 22 to assist with the community vaccination mission there.
With the help of Staff Sgt. Corey Jackson and Staff Sgt. Joseph Gomez, Williams supports Marine and Navy personnel assisting at the community vaccination center at the Pipkin Building near Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.
A native of Milpitas, California, Williams graduated from the University of Hawaii and joined the Army in 2018, receiving her commission through the Army Officer Candidate School.
Before she volunteered for the COVID-19 federal response mission, she was a platoon leader with the 217th Transportation Company in San Antonio.
Williams said she volunteered for the mission because she wanted to build her skills in organizing, managing and communicating. She is confident that she acquired those skills and encourages other junior officers to do the same.
“Before they sent us out, they put us through these courses, but it’s nothing like being on ground,” Williams said. “I’ve worked with the Marines more closely, Sailors, Coast Guard, and the National Guard.”
Both Brent and Williams offered advice for other junior leaders in positions of authority.
“Network and soak up as much information as you can,” Brent said. “Regardless of it not being pertinent to the mission you’re on right now, you can use it somewhere else.”
The 4th ESC is a subordinate command of the 377th Theater Sustainment Command. The 377th TSC, headquartered in Belle Chase, Louisiana, is a multifunctional headquarters that has been the sustainment lead for the Department of Defense COVID response since operations began in March 2020.