By Pamela ProperNovember 5, 2011
CAMP VIRGINIA, Kuwait -- The 541st Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, from Fort Riley, Kan., donned a new patch in a ceremony here Oct. 19.
The unit will wear the shield that represents the Army Materiel Command. The battalion's mission, under AMC, is to retrograde and reset equipment turned in by U.S. forces departing Iraq.
It is a daunting mission that started in 2009 and has already transferred about 1 million pieces of equipment to the government of Iraq. In addition, more than 64 percent of Theater Provided Equipment that was used in Iraq has already been redistributed to U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
What AMC does, and what it relies on units such as the 541st CSSB to do, is to rapidly return, repair, redistribute and dispose of equipment to regenerate combat power.
The drawdown is one of the Army's most significant military operations in U.S. history.
Soldiers of the 541st CSSB are aware of that and ready for the challenge.
Lt. Col. William Cain, commander, 541st CSSB, said his team came into the theater with eyes wide open, and appreciates the upfront support from the 402nd Army Field Support Brigade which is AMC's operating arm in Iraq and Kuwait.
"The 541st CSSB takes great pride in being part of the AMC team," said Cain.
"The efforts of the entire 402nd AFSB team have set us up for success with our current mission set. The support we received has been nothing short of spectacular from day one. The Soldiers are excited about the mission and take extreme pride in providing world class logistical support," Cain said.
AMC officials use the word "robust" to describe the capabilities of the integrated teams they have on the ground in Iraq and Kuwait. These teams have setup a synchronized battle rhythm for receiving the property, large and small, rolling stock (vehicles) and non-rolling stock (all other equipment) of units redeploying.
The drawdown is complex, yet strategically planned to be as simple as possible, for road weary troops who just want to get home.
"We are here to make the process user friendly and solve problems at the lowest level," said Cain.
Located 50 miles from the border, Camp Virginia is the first stop outside of Iraq for redeploying Soldiers. The site is a carefully orchestrated series of lanes and turn-in points, all meticulously planned and timed out.
"Units flow through a four-corners area where they turn-in all classes of supply and then they flow into our yard where we validate administrative data on the equipment before we relieve the unit of accountability," said Cain.
Second lieutenants John Moffett and Richard Macauley, 2nd Squadron, 13th Cavalry Regiment, Fort Bliss, Texas, came to Kuwait from Mosul, Iraq, a 693-mile journey. Their unit was responsible for closing Forward Operating Base Marez.
"The biggest challenge was shipping all the containers. We moved about 120," said Macauley.
"We closed the FOB. We had to get everybody else's stuff out of there," said Moffett. "It was a long, slow journey down here and everyone made it safely, it was a smooth transition and its one step closer to home."
Once the AMC team acquires their equipment, Soldiers can focus on getting back to home station and AMC can continue to reset Army stocks.