By 1st Lt. Natalia PalumboOctober 20, 2011
CAMP VIRGINIA, Kuwait, - The Four Corners Operation, operated by the 553rd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 230th Sustainment Brigade, was a busy site when the first convoy of Soldiers arrived from Iraq. The multi-class download site received four convoys redeploying from Iraq, Oct. 18, 2011. Members of the 2-29 Field Artillery Battalion from Fort Bliss, Texas, were some of the first troops to self-redeploy since the directive to reduce the presence of U.S. Forces in that country was publicized.
The Four Corners operation is a 24-hour site with a primary focus on being a one-stop, multi-class download of supplies for self-redeploying units preparing to turn in Theater Provided Equipment. Essentially it is a three part process involving the turn in of ammunition, the briefing of site procedures and turn in of medical supplies, and the actual downloading process of supplies.
Four Corners has been operational and ready to receive Soldiers and equipment for over seven months. "We, the (553rd CSSB), are very excited to be part of the responsible withdrawn of the troops from Iraq. We are very excited to see some of them finally," said Capt. Jocelyn Hayes, acting officer in charge of the Four Corners Operation. With the arrival of this first batch of redeploying units, the operation is now in full swing and being put to the test.
The first of the four convoys arrived in the morning, and the last one made it to Camp Virginia in the late afternoon. "The first convoy had twenty vehicles and ninety seven personnel eager to turn in their equipment," commented Staff Sgt. Jason Parson, noncommissioned officer in charge for incoming convoy lanes. The Four Corners site is set up with multiple lanes to receive various types and quantities of vehicles for downloading of retrograde equipment. These lanes help keep the site moving at full pace, allowing multiple convoys to push through in an expedient manner. "We decided to keep all the vehicles in one lane to have more command and control," Parson said.
After the first convoy was cleared from the lane and escorted to the next stop in the re-deploying site of Four Corners, the 553rd team conducted an after action review of what took place receiving and assisting the convoy with turning-in equipment and properly disposing of hazmat. "Our priority is to safely assist Soldiers with the re-deployment system, but our goal is to minimize the time they have on ground," Parson explained. After traveling hundreds of miles for several hours, if not days, the Soldiers coming into the site are extremely tired, making it evermore pertinent to charge everyone involved with enforcing safety standards.
One of the main focal points is the turn in of ammunition. While the 553rd conducts briefings with the convoy commanders and truck commanders, the rest of the Soldiers in the convoy turn in ammunition. Members of the 261st Ordnance Company, 553rd CSSB, account for and bring back to record all munitions brought in on the convoys. The 261st then sorts and verifies the serviceability of the munitions turned in. This task in itself is extremely daunting, as each round must be individually accounted for before the incoming Soldiers are allowed to move on the next step. Focusing the 553rd efforts in this manner, "The convoys will be moving quicker through the site," commented Hayes. The ten Soldiers in each lane will do the inspections of the vehicles and assist the Soldiers with removing the different classes of supplies from the convoys' inventories.
This has been the busiest day thus far for the Four Corners Soldiers. Close to one hundred vehicles and nearly three hundred Soldiers were processed at the site. It is expected for this number to increase significantly as Iraq closes down by January 2012. The 553rd continues to evolve the operation to expedite the turn in process, bringing the warfighters one step closer to returning home.