AL ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq – In May, 21 Minnesota Army National Guard Soldiers assigned to the 347 Regional Support Group, Task Force Victory, arrived to support those stationed at Al Asad Air Base for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve.
Much like a city, military bases serve as a place of work and residence for U.S. military personnel, coalition forces and contractors.
A group of various specialty occupations that help to mirror the functions of a typical city government entity, the Base Operating Support-Integrating services (BOS-I) help ensure the success of Al Asad Air Base.
“BOS-I is similar to a city hall stateside,” said Maj. Johnny Villarreal, the director for the BOS-I here. “It has police, fire, public works, information technology and logistics falling under a city administrator (BOS-I director), who works with a mayor.”
The team includes personnel working in fields ranging from signal operations, information technology, wheeled vehicle mechanics, engineering, logistics, military police, administration, food safety and more. Additionally, BOS-I oversees billeting on post, managing a large fleet of non-tactical vehicles, moving equipment and personnel on and off base, and more. They also provide engineer oversight for base construction projects.
Base operations is a multi-faceted project, and the BOS-I has a wide-reaching impact, Villarreal said.
“The BOS-I mission impacts every person and piece of equipment arriving and leaving AAAB,” he said.
When it comes to moving people and equipment in and out of AAAB, Master Sgt. Lee Christopherson, the BOS-I logistics and mobility noncommissioned officer in charge, knows all about getting people and equipment moved.
Efficiently moving personnel requires maintaining good working relationships with flight managers and the airport terminal team, he said.
“In order to effectively manage flights, I work with the Combined Joint Task Force Joint Operating Planning and Execution System managers to adjust flights as needed,” he said. “And I maintain a good working relationship with the airport terminal to make sure passengers make it to and from where they need to go.”
Christopherson processes ground and air movements for items like new generators, retrograde excess materials and some supplies that are not readily available to the Eastern Syria Security Area.
Additionally, he serves as the spot power generation manager, tracking over 80 generators to support base tenants.
“Most elements come to the BOS-I for power generation issues, and I assist in resolving them,” he said.
With more than just U.S. forces living and working at the base, BOS-I facilitates various projects and services with the help of coalition partners, Villarreal said.
“BOS-I works with coalition partners on certain construction projects,” he said. “The Polish engineer platoon takes direction from the BOS-I engineer, providing horizontal engineering support to AAAB.”
In support of Operation Inherent Resolve’s mission campaign of advising, assisting, and enabling Iraqi Security Forces, who share a portion of AAAB with coalition partners, the BOS-I coordinates Polish engineering support in the Amber Zone of AAAB.
The team also participates in periodic engagements with the AAAB Iraqi base commander, Iraqi Air Force Staff Maj. Gen. Abbas Fadel Damer. These engagements, Villarreal said, entail coordinating base support and contracting efforts. Currently, the BOS-I is helping local vendors learn the process of conducting business with the U.S. government, Villareal said.
“Staff Maj. Gen. Abbas has an interest in utilizing local vendors to support the Anbar region, “he said. “So, BOS-I works with the 408th Contracting Command and Logistics Civil Augmentation Program to give local vendors an opportunity to bid on contracts and services.”
The 347 RSG’s mission is expected to end in early 2023 when it transfers authority to an incoming element.