By USASOCOctober 26, 2009
This is logistics on the edge. Whether the edge of a mountain or the edge of a map, the 528th Sustainment Brigade is likely there, ensuring special operations units have what they need. The Army's only airborne sustainment brigade looks beyond "areas of responsibility," and is one of the most unique sustainment organizations in the Army. On any given day, nearly one-third of the 528th is deployed somewhere in the world providing critical support to special operations units.
Developed out of necessity, special operations logistics has evolved to meet the challenges of extreme environments around the globe. Two examples, pioneered by the 528th, are in medical and communications support to special operations forces.
The 528th employs medical teams that are the equivalent of traditional forward surgical teams, but pared down to eight medical personnel along with the essentials of life-sustaining equipment. That lean profile allows for unmatched speed and mobility in reaching remote crisis situations.
Known as special operations resuscitation teams, these medical personnel can respond rapidly to an operator in distress, and help bridge the gap between the special operations medic, forward surgical teams and the conventional combat support hospital. All the medics on the team go through portions of the Special Forces "18 Delta" course, and are certified for transporting critical care cases on U.S. Air Force aircraft. The teams are, in fact, trained on numerous nonstandard aircraft, from fixed-to-rotary wing, which means they can get on virtually any aircraft and quickly turn it into a flying ambulance.
The 528th is also home to the 112th Signal Battalion, which provides unique signal support to special operations forces worldwide. Employing the latest in communications technology, the 112th operates across the spectrum to ensure that signal architectures between SOF and conventional forces are closely linked. Operational standards are high considering the wide variety of unique communications systems employed in support of the operators.
With a MacGyver-like orientation, the Soldiers of the 112th are often able to take commercial equipment and reconfigure it to meet the unique environmental challenges of special operations missions. And while conventional signal units are aimed mostly at internal tactical communications, the 112th Signal Battalion focuses on supporting the entire special operations force, whether on land, air or sea.
The 528th Sustainment Brigade traces its lineage back to 1942, and has participated in all phases of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, as well as other missions worldwide. That experience pays off among the many small, independent, and often mobile liaison and support teams the 528th employs to warfighting commands around the world. That connectivity and experience ensures that the initial planning for special operations missions satisfies the needs of the operator.
Two National Guard units also provide valuable support to the 528th: the 197th Special Troops Company (Utah National Guard) and 195th Forward Support Company (Nebraska National Guard).
Accustomed to small-team work and responsibility, the special operations logisticians of the 528th are known for their maturity, as well as being "self-starters" excited by varied challenges. The 528th seeks the kind of mature individuals who can think through a tough problem and operate effectively from commander's intent. As a result, its personnel are highly sought after in follow-on, conventional assignments for their experience and leadership.