By Sgt. 1st Class Roger M. DeySeptember 12, 2010
CAMP VICTORY, Iraq - Soldiers deployed to Iraq with the III Corps Special Troops Battalion are unlikely to see a dramatic shift in their day-to-day missions following the transition of United States Forces- Iraq to Operation New Dawn, Sept. 1.
"We're here to support the USF-I headquarters personnel with logistics and administrative support and that mission really doesn't change, whether it's Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation New Dawn," said Maj. Kevin Kugel, III Corps STB executive officer.
Task Force Phantom had its share of challenges going into Operation New Dawn, having redeployed approximately 10 percent of the Soldiers who came with III Corps in March.
The battalion had to make a lot of tough decisions about who was going to stay and who was going to be sent home, Kugel said.
Capt. Brian Hollandsworth, the personnel officer for the STB, said the challenge was determining how to meet the mission in Iraq while balancing the needs of the Soldiers, their families and the Army.
Leaders within the task force determined how best to complete their section's mission while simultaneously setting up their Soldiers for success. They worked to redeploy Soldiers who might benefit by returning to the states for training and reassignment, who could move on to a different duty station to meet the needs of the Army, or who may have had family situations to deal with.
As the Responsible Drawdown of Forces began to affect the STB, battalion leadership had to rethink their approach to certain missions in order to meet their goals.
"With the reduction of people we had to consolidate certain tasks and adjust the workload of the people who remained," Kugel said.
Hollandsworth has seen his shop take one of the largest force reduction hits.
"We've probably dropped about 20 percent of our Soldiers from within the shop," he said.
Despite the loss of manpower, Hollandsworth said the quality of the services his shop provides to Soldiers hasn't fallen because they anticipated force reductions and started cross training and cross-leveling early on.
Soldiers who used to have only one focus, such as dealing exclusively with promotions or awards have been multi-tasked to keep everything running efficiently.
"Cross training helped out a lot and a lot of the Soldiers stepped up and asked 'how can I fill a gap''" he said. "It's done pretty well for us."
Kugel said another challenge for the Phantom Battalion is dealing with the excess equipment that the Responsible Drawdown of Forces has generated.
"It's not just going to disappear," Kugel said. "It has to be shipped to Kuwait or to one of the airfields and then it has to get out of here. That's a big job that takes a lot of planning."
Much of that task has fallen to the troops who work for Capt. Garren Bremer, the battalion's supply officer.
Although spared a loss of manpower, Bremer and his property book officer, Chief Warrant Officer Jubaba Kemp, have been busy turning in and redistributing equipment from units that are standing down, dealing with everything from excess office equipment to vehicles.
I would say the big thing that's going on with New Dawn and RDoF is taking equipment from units that are standing down and redistributing it," Bremer said.
Bremer credits Kemp with shouldering the bulk of the effort to turn in or transfer equipment from roughly 18 units that redeployed without a unit coming in to replace them.
According to Bremer, units in the battalion have also been working to turn in excess equipment that has been left behind by units during previous deployments. Much of that equipment, which is not on unit property books, is turned in through the Mobile Reconstruction Team Yard.
The MRT then redistributes it to units here in Iraq or prepares it for shipment to Afghanistan.
Although the jobs and expectations of Phantom Battalion Soldiers haven't changed under Operation New Dawn, Kugel doesn't expect to know the full impact on support requirements until they get used to having fewer people around.
"Right now it's business as usual, but we expect the support requirements to decrease as personnel decrease," he said.