News: 298th CSSB Takes Command in Afghanistan
Story by Petty Officer 1st Class John Pearl
SHINDAND, Afghanistan - The 298th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion assumed command in a transfer of authority ceremony from the 529th CSSB in Shindand, Herat Province, Afghanistan, March 12, 2011.
From Philadelphia, Miss., the 298th is a National Guard unit and its 77 soldiers will be charged with logistical support of forward operating soldiers of Regional Command-West. The 298th is only the second CSSB to be deployed to RC-W. They are deployed for nearly a year.
Incoming battalion commander, Lt. Col. Clifton Pippen, thanked his soldiers for being ready when called and the professionalism they displayed during turnover. Pippen also reminded his soldiers that while the coming mission will be difficult their dedication to being the best they can no matter what they do will have a lasting impact on Afghanistan and it's people.
"I think what is most exciting is I see American soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen all making a difference and helping the people of Afghanistan take their country back. I see a very diverse incorporation with the coalition and Afghan forces all together as one team. I'm very excited about that dynamic. It's very evident it will be a big part of this mission," said Pippen.
In 2004, the 298th was deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The battalion was created in 1943 as a tank battalion. They participated in the European Campaign of WWII. In 1968, the battalion became a logistics unit and has been so since.
The outgoing 529th, from Virginia, has been in Shindand for nearly year. As the first support battalion in RC-W, the unit and its 86 soldiers' accomplishments include the following: command and control for 500,000 miles worth of convoys, managed $700,000 of emergency response funds leading to infrastructure and humanitarian aid projects, increased supply yard capacity from 48 to 150 customers, quadrupled size of available line items for forward deployed troops, improved facilities of Shindand Airbase, created a training program for the Afghan National Army in vehicle maintenance/supply operations and managed $25 million in contracts throughout the battalion.
Of these accomplishments, 529th battalion commander Lt. Col. Michelle Rose says the soldiers interactions with the Afghan population were among the most rewarding.
"We put in eight fresh-water wells for the Afghans and helped improve the underground canal that also provides water. There are many widowed women here, so we started a vocational training project for widowed Afghan women so they could support themselves and their families. It's those type of projects that really make a difference in making Afghanistan better," said Rose.
Additionally, Rose said without teamwork between other U.S. units, coalition forces, contractors and Afghans the mission would have been impossible and she encouraged the incoming battalion to foster and grow those partnerships started by the 529th CSSB.