By Sgt. 1st Class Rhonda M. Lawson, 3rd Sustainment Bde., 3rd ID Public AffairsJuly 29, 2010
VICTORY BASE COMPLEX, Iraq - As the reduction of forces takes place over the next year, a number of units have been curtailed without replacement. While the thought of returning home early may be music to some Soldiers' ears, it can present a logistical challenge to the units' logistics and supply teams.
However, the 2nd Battalion, 156th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, 103rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) has not only risen to the challenge, but overcome it.
Elements of the unit are scheduled to return home to Louisiana this month, while others have been assigned to new missions in other parts of the country. The unit is not scheduled to be replaced, so they had to begin the arduous process of turning in all of their equipment, from the smallest automation to their largest truck.
Fortunately, in the less than two months since they started the process, the unit successfully turned in all of their equipment. Unfortunately, the unit's headquarters building burned down just a couple of days later. The cause of the fire remains under investigation, but no one was injured in the blaze.
Despite the fire, Maj. Darrel Freund, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, 103rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) logistics officer, said he is still pleased with the performance of 2/156 Inf.
"The 2/156 supply personnel made a difficult process look easy from the brigade's perspective," he said. "The equipment was all turned in prior to the fire, and the fire just happened, so I do not think it will affect the units that are leaving."
He added that working with the infantry unit was a good experience.
"I enjoyed the opportunity to work so closely with all the 11 Bravos [Infantryman]," he said. "We logisticians don't get that opportunity very often. When we asked them for something, we always got it and always on time."
A number of factors contributed to the unit's turn-in success, according to Sgt. 1st Class Brandon Migues, the unit's assistant operations NCO and master gunner. The first, said the Erath, La., native, was the unit's ability to work as a team.
"We had medics, (Unit Movement Officers), and mechanics helping us," he said. "We all joined together to make this happen."
Another important factor was the paperwork. Before the first piece of equipment was taken to the Redistribution Property Accountability Team, Sgt. Roy Beaudreaux, the assistant supply sergeant for Headquarters, Headquarters Company, 2/156 Inf., met with the inspection team to have the paperwork checked and confirm what the unit would need to have a successful turn-in.
"We had to make more trips," he said, "but it made it pretty easy. The turn-in team is pretty helpful."
"There was a lot of attention to detail," added Staff Sgt. Chris Etheridge, the HHC supply sergeant. "We wanted to figure out how to do it right the first time."
That attention to detail included more than just paperwork. Staff Sergeant Etheridge, a native of Erath, La., explained that their equipment needed that same attention. Fluids had to be drained from the vehicles and properly disposed of. Communications equipment needed to be disconnected. Computer hard drives needed to be wiped. They even had to decide what equipment needed to be turned in when, as some teams still had missions to perform.
"We had to learn fast, and learn quick," he said.
That proactivity, plus an active command emphasis, according to Sgt. 1st Class Aaron Bourque, the battalion logistics noncommissioned officer in charge and native of Erath, La., set the stage for the unit's entire turn-in process. He explained that the battalion command team left the process almost entirely in the NCOs' hands, but they made the process a priority from the moment they learned the unit would be curtailed.
"We learned a lot of lessons from our last deployment," he said. "Also, what helped us was that our commander was the brigade S4 the last time."
Although the unit is nearly done with their turn-in process, Sgt. 1st Class Bourque said the unit isn't taking this time to sit and relax.
"It's a big morale booster for a lot of people," he said. "But until we make it home, we're not finished yet."