JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq - Command staff and leaders with the13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and the 15th Sustainment Brigade, met with their replacement counterparts, the 103rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and the 3rd Sustainment Brigade Feb. 13 at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, during their initial pre-deployment site survey.
The four commands addressed operations and the adaptation of their mission during the upcoming drawdown of U.S. forces and equipment, said Maj. Kevin Baird, plans officer with the 13th ESC.
"This is an operational overview for the commanders, to give them a picture of the environment they will come into when they arrive," said Baird, a Nashville, Tenn., native.
The 103rd ESC, out of Des Moines, Iowa, is scheduled to conduct its relief-in-place and transfer of authority in July, when it takes over as the Iraqi Joint Operation Area's sustainment command, Baird said. The 3rd Sust. Bde., out of Fort Stewart, Ga., is slated to take over the 15th Sust. Bde.'s area of responsibly when the unit redeploys in May, he said.
With the total amount of U.S. forces in Iraq slated to decrease to no more than 50,000 troops, the 103rd ESC's mission comes at a crucial time in the drawdown, said Baird.
Infantry units in place during the drawdown will act as advise-and-assist brigades, he said. The AABs will work with the Iraqi government and military to help the country continue its operations and expand its capabilities.
"Our focus will be on sustaining the ongoing operations and retrograde of equipment," he said. "Through our sustainment operations, we're going to allow the supported forces to (have) those partnerships with the Iraqis."
Baird said the logistics training and advisory teams with the 13th ESC, originally embedded with the Iraqi Army, were pulled from their day-to-day partnerships to oversee Iraqi operations. By doing this, the Iraqi Soldiers operate unaided and the LTATs only assist when required, he said.
The briefings between the 13th and 103rd ESCs have provided helpful oversight and up-to-date mission information since the 13th ESC's arrival in Iraq, said Command Sgt. Maj. LeRoy Haugland, senior enlisted adviser with the 103rd ESC.
"It gives us situational awareness now as to what the current status is and what the anticipated status will be when we actually get here, and the plan beyond our RIP/TOA," said Haugland, a Cresco, Iowa, native.
The 103rd will assume command of sustainment operations while the drawdown is in full effect, said Haugland. With thousands of troops and pieces of equipment slated to be moved out of Iraq, the 103rd ESC needs to be ready, he said.
This will be the 103rd's first overseas deployment as an ESC, said Haugland. The 103rd ESC has existed, in some form of operation, since 1942, starting as an infantry division. As the Army adjusted, so did the unit, he said.
As Iraq awaits its upcoming national elections, the 13th ESC is dedicated to preparing the 103rd ESC for its support mission in Iraq, said Baird.