By Capt. Alan FowlerJune 30, 2010
CONTINGENCY OPERATING STATION GARRY OWEN, Iraq - Soldiers working at remote outposts in the border province of Maysan endure harsh working and living conditions compared to many troops in Iraq. Without good logistical support to back them up, their jobs would be impossible.
For the 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, that's where the Distribution Platoon of the Forward Support Company comes in.
The 'Distro' Platoon provides the logistics lifeline for the Soldiers of Task Force Eagle in Maysan.
Since arriving in Iraq, the unit has been working to provide all manner of logistical support, enabling Troop A, 4th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, to advise and assist the Iraqi Department of Border Enforcement at Joint Security Station Al Tib.
"The Forward Support Company truly is a lifeline for us. Whether it's generator parts or water, their dedication keeps us focused on the mission," said Capt. Neil Johnson, commander, Troop A, 4th Sqdn., 10th Cav. Reg.
Prior to each mission, 'Distro' Platoon conducts all necessary planning and coordination before loading supplies at COS Garry Owen for the 90-mile trek to JSS Al Tib.
The recurring trip begins with assisting the mechanics in the maintenance of the variety of vehicles and utility trucks necessary for the mission. With trucks constantly operating in temperatures over 100 degrees and in a hostile environment, mechanical failure can quickly halt a mission, said Sgt. Danny Woods, a 'Distro' Platoon driver with the 1st Bn., 8th Inf. Regt.
The day of the mission, Soldiers are responsible for loading and securing all the supplies onto their trucks. The supplies must be packed, loaded, secured, and protected from the elements. Once the supplies are loaded, the Soldiers have only a few hours to deliver them before products begin to spoil, Woods said.
"The preparation time and the experience of running supplies in the vast openness of this province feels like the ultimate road trip," he said.
DBE, Iraqi Police, and the Iraqi Army have assisted FSC Soldiers with their mission by providing route clearance, security and local police escort. Sharing the road is part of the overall goal of returning the responsibility of security and control to the Iraqis, said Johnson.
"So far in this deployment, 'Distro' Soldiers have done an outstanding job keeping motivated, flexible and determined," Johnson said. "Keeping each JSS equipped to support the Iraqi Security Forces provides security to all of the Maysan Province and southeastern Iraq."
(Capt. Alan Fowler is assigned to the 1st Bn., 8th Inf. Regt., deployed to southern Iraq)