By Spc. Jeffrey T. Field, 189th Infantry Brigade, First ArmyJuly 6, 2007
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - "It's versatile and mobile, can cater to several military branches --whether U.S., Coalition or Iraqi and will manage logistics at every level in theater, from the individual Soldier to the collective unit mission," said Brig. Gen. Gregory E. Couch, commander of the 316th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), an Army Reserve unit, based in Coraopolis, Pa, near Pittsburgh.
The transformation-era modular unit with over 400 Soldiers and Airmen from around the country was formed to address the military's mission of sustained logistical support and rapid response in emergencies. Couch said "The unit will provide support where it's needed in a timely manner."
The 316th's motto, "Sustain the Victory," translates into providing everything from bullets to beans, from fuel to maintenance parts to coordinating certain human resources. The command will oversee 20,000 logistical Soldiers, providing support to United States forces, Coalition partners and Iraqi forces in theater.
"At no other time since World War II has our nation relied so heavily on the Reserve and National Guard," said Couch. "Our job with the 316th is to ensure that proper planning has taken place, that each unit we support can fulfill its mission, that their movements go smoothly, and that they have the best equipment and supplies."
According to Couch, 316th Soldiers and Airmen are a "fully trained, cohesive team, ready to deploy." Couch's son, Staff Sgt. Bradley Couch is also deploying with the unit.
Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jesse Bascombe, a paralegal from Troy, Ohio is deploying with the unit. "The Army's way of training is totally different from the Air Force's way of training," said Bascombe. "The Army teaches you to be a warrior first, then your job skills, but the Air Force teaches you job skills, then to be a warrior."
Bascombe said that the training - which included convoy live fire, first aid and combat lifesaver course -- was realistic. He added that joining the Army's 316th was a great opportunity to make history. As a paralegal, Bascombe will process disciplinary actions, wills, powers of attorney and other legal documents for the 316th servicemembers. He said the toughest part of deploying is leaving his wife and two sons, a 20-month-old and 7-month-old.
A July 2 ceremony followed the unit's final phase of training at Fort Bragg before deployment. "There's no doubt in my mind that you're ready," First Army Commander Lt. Gen. Russel L. HonorAfA told the deploying Soldiers during the ceremony. And to reinforce the mind-set, each time HonorAfA said "316th" during his speech, the Soldiers and Airmen responded with "Fit to fight." The general used the unit's name at least a dozen times.
The unit was mobilized, trained and deployed by First Army, which has nationwide responsibility for the mobilization, training and deployment of all National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers in the continental United States. First Army provides tough, realistic training and has deployed more than 460,000 Soldiers since Sept. 11, 2001.