News: Logistics: Getting things moved on time
Story by Spc. Courtney Marulli
By Spc. Courtney Marulli
2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division Public Affairs
FORWARD OPERATING BASE RUSTAMIYAH, Iraq — When it comes to fighting a war, most people envision the infantryman, running on pure adrenaline, busting down doors and detaining insurgents. But, there is another part of war fighting that goes unnoticed by many. It's the logistical side.
The 2nd Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division ensures that Soldiers both on and off the many forward operating bases get the supplies they need in order to keep things running.
There are many parts to the logistical side, including maintenance, food, supply, automations, ammunition management and mortuary affairs. Each one is geared to taking care of a brigade comprised of six battalions. But, with the surge of troops to Iraq, the 2nd BSB is now responsible for three more units.
Maj. Jason Tomasetti, support operations officer of 2nd BSB, said the unit stays busy supporting nine battalions and the various military transition teams in the area of operations.
Supplies move around the area through combat logistics patrols, which are provided with security to ensure the convoys arrive at their destination safely.
Tomasetti, of Colorado Springs, Colo., said everything has gone relatively smoothly, but it wasn't always easy to get the supplies they needed.
"There are times when we had to work real hard with Division and Corps to get things," he said.
One of the missions the brigade has undertaken is implementing the Baghdad Security Plan and providing safer marketplaces for the Iraqi people. The units placing barriers move the cement walls themselves, but if they need help, the support operations section coordinates to get them the trucks and equipment they need.
The 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment is currently reshaping the historical Abu Nuwas Marketplace and Tomasetti said 2nd BSB is helping by having their own Soldiers attached to 1-504th to provide trucks and equipment.
It is more than just arranging the shipment of goods, as coordination between the support operations and the engineers is essential to ensure route clearance is carried out. Sometimes, air support is also needed to ensure maximum security.
"With logistics, a lot we do is in the background. (Things) that people don't realize we do," he said. "It's not important if they know, it doesn't matter."
What does matter, Tomasetti said, is ensuring Soldiers get the necessities.
"Anytime a Soldier goes outside the wire, we make sure they have food, ammo and what they need," he said.
The team Tomasetti has working with him is one that he said is irreplaceable. "I couldn't be happier with the crew I have in the SPO shop," he said. "They're very professional and do a great job, especially when dealing with nine battalions. I couldn't ask for a better group to work with."
One of the members of that group is Chief Warrant Officer Robert Cummings, the brigade maintenance technician.
Cummings, of Colorado Springs, Colo., said his shop is responsible for ensuring all vehicles get the proper armor and enhancements they need to be combat effective.
"We handle all the logistics for anything to do with vehicle maintenance," he said.
In the beginning there were some challenges getting everything set up, but once it was established it became routine, Cummings said. He is glad to be involved in a section that ensures Soldiers get the proper armor on their vehicles.
Aside from maintenance, there are those who are in charge of the supply and transportation aspect of logistics and that entails tracking all combat logistical patrols and ensuring items get moved efficiently throughout theater.
Capt. Mary Ricks, the supply and transportation officer, said in addition to transportation, her section also does external missions, such as enabling a unit to have equipment and personnel to move barriers.
"If they don't have the assets to move barriers we do it for them," she said.
Ricks, of Roanoke Rapids, N.C., said they are also in charge of maintaining all the classes of supply and the supply warehouse.
Working in conjunction with the 541st Combat Service Support Battalion, out of Baghdad International Airport, enables all the units in the brigade to get what they need in a timely manner.
"They push to us and then we push out to the units," she said of the supplies that come in.
Since the brigade entered Iraq in November 2006, Ricks said the supply and transportation section has driven 23,199 miles and all have been accident free. Company A, has pushed out over 3 million gallons of fuel and there have been more than 144,000 cases of water and 17,000 cases of MREs distributed in the area of operations.
Those that ensure the computer programs and systems are working also make logistical operations happen.
Spc. Jose Rojas, a logistical supply specialist, works in the Combat Supply Support Automations Maintenance Office of the SPO and his job is to maintain and keep the logistical aspect of the brigade's mission up and running.
Rojas, from New York, said part of his job is to ensure the supply and logistical computers are up and running so people can order and receive what they need to stay mission capable.
His day is typically quiet, which is a good thing.
"Quiet means everything is working how it should," Rojas said. "If we're busy, something is definitely wrong. We try not to be busy."
With a satellite system, Rojas and others can monitor logistics for 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment and for 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, which are both detached from the brigade and are operating in different areas of operation.
"We know when they're down before they do," Rojas said.
The entire logistical operation process is a group effort and those working in 2nd BSB do their best to take care of fellow Soldiers.