By U.S. Army Sgt. Chad MenegayJanuary 26, 2011
BAGHDAD - At a remote site in the Mesopotamian shrub desert an unassuming group of specially trained personnel plans, and moves, military forces and equipment in support of both Operation New Dawn and Operation Enduring Freedom.
The Iraq Training and Advisory Mission-Army logistics cell at Contingency Operating Site Hammer is led by a noncommissioned officer who refers to herself as "the mother."
The log cell is like a family, said U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Cassandra Douglas, an advisor with ITAM-Army.
The group is small, composed of three Soldiers who volunteered for deployment working logistical calculations, but the mission is varied and broad in scope.
"Even though we're just a few individuals, we do everything that encompasses logistics work," said U.S. Army Sgt. David Hill, a logistics noncommissioned officer with ITAM-Army.
"My job affects everybody," said U.S. Army Sgt. Angel Montero, property book manager for the Besmaya Combat Training Center with ITAM-Army. "We make sure everything runs smoothly internally when it comes to logistics for the ITAM-Army personnel we have here."
The logistics team is also busy with the removal and redistribution of material that COS Hammer and the BCTC have amassed over seven years of operations.
The log cell has worked with mobile redistribution teams, contracted services, and a movement of heavy equipment team at Hammer to responsibly identify, sort and reallocate excess material to where it is needed most - which means Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, to another unit in Iraq or back to the United States.
"Logistically, we are trying to move as much as we can out of country, but anything that is left behind, we'll turn over to the Iraqis," said Douglas a native of Lawton, Okla.
Excess equipment and supplies that the log cell has given to the Iraqi Army includes: food, vehicle parts, medical equipment and furniture.
Prior to August 2010, when the ITAM-Army team moved from the BCTC to nearby Hammer, the team's main function was that of advising the Iraqi Army on logistics.
"We helped the Iraqis in regards to their supply system; our mission was to show them how to set up and manage their warehouses," Douglas said. "We advised them on how to handle the ammunition, tanks, how to inventory weapons. Our mission was to be there, to offer advice and monitor their system."
The mission has changed to moving forces and equipment around to where it needs to go, because so much has to be moved out of the country into other areas, Douglas said.
As a small group, members of the log cell say they don't have all the resources they need, so they rely on coordination with other entities to fully handle logistics.
The cell communicates and works with numerous agencies and personnel to accomplish their mission.
Logistics boils down to communication, "that's how we're able to operate the way we do," Douglas said.
Montero said he finds his logistics work both active and fulfilling.
"My job is a lot more than just forms and paperwork," said Montero, a native of Albuquerque, N.M. "I never get bored; it's rarely the same thing twice. It's funny too because, you get one thing done and then four more take its place on the table."
It is good to see tasks accomplished and missions complete, to "erase that task off my board or put a checkmark by it," Montero said. "I'm happy, because I get to see results, [shipping containers] and vehicles disappearing out of here."
As Douglas and Montero redeploy soon, Douglas said that as far as she knew Hill -a native of Texas City, Texas - would remain the lone logistics cell team member prior to Hammer's scheduled turnover to the U.S. State Department in 2011. The team, therefore, is doing all they can so Hill can focus on the base turnover mission.
Editor's note: Menegay is a member of the Ohio Army National Guard's 196th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment attached to the U.S. Forces-Iraq Deputy Commanding General for Advising and Training Public Affairs Office.