News: Sustainment Automation Support Management Office pulls their weight in support of retrograde operations
Story by Sgt. Michael Selvage
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan – Soldiers assigned to the 10th Sustainment Brigade Sustainment Automation Support Management Office contributed to retrograde operations July 15 by recovering logistics information systems.
The SASMO team successfully recovered the first very small aperture terminal, a device used to transmit and receive data signal through a satellite, established in Afghanistan from the top of the Salang Pass. The team also recovered a radio frequency in-transit visibility kit, a system that traces the identity, status and location of cargo from one location to another via satellite.
The Salang Pass meanders through the Hindu Kush Mountains and has been called one of the most dangerous roads in the world.
As International Security Assistance Force transitions from partnered combat operations to train, advise and assist operations, commanders will adjust the size of their force and the amount of equipment in their area to meet the new mission.
“There are currently hundreds of VSATs throughout the theater of operation,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Robert Kay, a Norwalk, Ohio native, SASMO officer in charge. “The goal is to reduce that number to less than 50.”
Reducing the number of VSATs in theater is a part of the retrograde mission put in place by U.S. Army G4.
The 10th SBDE has been successful with balancing the retrograde and sustainment missions simultaneously.
In the early morning hours the brigade’s convoy security team prepared for the long trek through the Salang Pass, which is approximately 45-kilometers long, by conducting their pre-combat checks and pre-combat inspections before rolling through the entrance control point.
Soldiers assigned to the 330th Movement Control Battalion played a vital role in the success of the mission by providing a heavy expanded mobility tactical truck with a load handling system in place of a flat bed.
After the convoy made it to the top of the pass, which is 12,723 feet above sea level, Soldiers from the CST provided security while the SASMO team and other members of the convoy headed to the location of the equipment, which was on the roof of a stone building, to conduct their mission.
There were a few snags here and there but due to the resiliency of the Muleskinner Soldiers they were able to overcome each obstacle.
Spc. Kenneth Jobin, a Staten Island, New York native, SASMO technician, said the disassembly of the VSAT was estimated to take as long as four hours, but with the help of Sgt. Hanson Thomas, an Orange, New Jersey native, truck commander and Spc. Drake Baldwin, a Dayton, Ohio native, utilities equipment repairer, both assigned to the 10th SBDE, it was finished within a half hour.
“They knew all the tools needed,” said Jobin.
For the VSAT to be completely retrograded, all components had to be accounted for and secured. If not, the Army would have lost more than $96,000, which was one of the many factors that went into the planning process of the mission. The same thing applied to the RFI-TV, which saved the Army more than $23,000.
“We had to account for every single piece of the equipment,” said Jobin. “Every nut, bolt and cable, I mean everything.”
The biggest issue that arose was the mere size of the VSAT and the welded bars of metal some might call stairs leading to the roof of the stone building. It was deemed unsafe to try and carry parts of the VSAT down the stairs.
An NCO made the decision to use ratchet straps to lower the components of the VSAT and RFI-TV down the side of the building alleviating any safety hazards.
Soldiers lowered the equipment to the ground and secured it to the HEMTT.
This may seem like a difficult task, but teamwork ensured the mission was accomplished in a timely manner.
Once everything was accounted for and secured, the convoy made its way back down the traitorous roads of the pass and back to the motor pool for an after action review.
Materiel and equipment recovered from Afghanistan will increase the readiness of U.S. forces at home and prepare them for future operations.
The retrograde mission was a success saving the Army more than $100,000 in part to the coordination and teamwork of the Muleskinner team and the Soldiers of the 330th MCB.
This work, Sustainment Automation Support Management Office pulls their weight in support of retrograde operations, by SSG Michael Selvage, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.