CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE TAJI, Iraq – The 1483rd Transportation Company, 541st Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) is almost done with its deployment to Contingency Operating Base Taji, Iraq and has overcome many challenges during its mission in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The Soldiers with the 1483rd Trans. Company began their deployment July 7, 2009 with a call to duty ceremony in Perrysburg, Ohio. The 1483rd arrived last August at COB Taji after mobilizing at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center in Edinboro, Ind.
Prior to mobilization, various transportation and maintenance personnel from four transportation companies and one maintenance company were added to the ranks of the 1483rd Trans. Company.
The diverse unit roster proved to be an asset to the unit, said Staff Sgt. Jeffery Fox, a maintenance supervisor with the 1483rd Trans Company, 541st CSSB, 15th Sust. Bde., 13th ESC and a Fremont, Ohio, native.
"Demographics is a big thing," Fox said. "Every unit has their own demographics. The Columbus, Ohio unit is totally different from the McConnellsville, Ohio unit. It's just a totally different ball game."
Soldiers with the 1483rd Trans. Company completed many specialized training cycles during the pre-mobilization period, introducing them to the Heavy Equipment Transporter system for the first time. Learning to drive and repair unfamiliar equipment like the HET was the first of many challenges for the company this deployment.
The unit's most significant challenge involved maintenance. When the unit first arrived at COB Taji, the equipment readiness rate was substandard, said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Joe Cocanour, a maintenance officer with the 1483rd Trans. Company and a Newark, Ohio, native.
"When we got here, we inherited 54 HET systems, and they're pretty maintenance-intensive anyway," he said. "They had been here for six years, and were just ran into the ground. You could hardly keep one running … It was difficult. We worked a lot of long hours."
After seven months of effort, the unit is at a more than 95 percent equipment readiness rate — a result of working together and communicating, Fox said.
"Anything can be accomplished," he said. "I believe anything can be accomplished with teamwork. Teamwork is a must, communications is a must. Without communications nothing gets accomplished."
Job-specific training made the difference, Cocanour said.
"What we do back home is the same thing that we do here. Everything from the maintenance management to the meetings we had, it wasn't anything that we don't do day-to-day back at home." Cocanour said. "I felt well-prepared. I think we fell right into the Army system with no problem at all."
Personnel changes proved to be an obstacle the unit had to overcome, said Fox
Soldiers with the unit had to learn as much about each other as they did about the HET equipment they maintained. They had to draw from their own diverse backgrounds and experiences to help each other, Fox said.
"I think they learned a lot about themselves and their own diversity," he said. "We have country boys. We've got rappers. I think we've overcome adversity by using our diversity."
Another source of strength for the unit came from home. The unit's Family readiness group kept Family members in Ohio informed about deployment developments with a newsletter and a phone tree and this helped to reduce some of the stress on personnel, Fox said.
"With how diverse our unit is, the Families from all parts of Ohio came together," he said. "With the size that it is, it's been seriously appreciated, because they need peace of mind too. If they aren't informed — if the [Families] aren't happy — we're not happy."
"I am really impressed with the overall performance of the guys in my section," Cocanaur said. "Just what we've accomplished with the maintenance posture of the equipment; that's been pretty gratifying and the recognition that we've gotten from higher headquarters, all the way up to the 13th ESC. They have made a good name for Ohio."