News: 54th Engineer Battalion receives Department of the Army award
FORWARD OPERATING BASE STRIKER, Iraq — The Forward Support Company, 54th Engineer Battalion of United States Army Europe carved a new permanence into the battalion's history, honor and culture while deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom recently.
The company won the Department of the Army Maintenance Excellence Award in the Small Modified Table of Organization and Equipment category making it the first unit awarded while conducting combat or contingency operations in Army history.
"This is a proud day for the company and the battalion," said Lt. Col. Christopher Lestochi, 54th Engineer Battalion commander. "Not only is this an exceptional achievement by the Soldiers of FSC, this shows how we can sustain readiness in combat through their extraordinary maintenance efforts."
The newly formed FSC brought the concept of maintenance, as it exists today, to the battalion's mission, including two-level maintenance, communications and electronic equipment maintenance, allied trades, distribution and security capabilities. Additional logistical and security expertise allowed the battalion to integrate external units more skillfully. The Task Force is currently comprised of Air Force, Navy Seabees, and Active, Reserve and National Guard Army engineers.
When the company arrived in Iraq, its leadership identified weaknesses and took steps to transform those shortcomings into strengths. The unit leadership has also identified several MTOE omissions and is in the process of adding capabilities of materials handling and small arms sustainment maintenance.
An in-depth inspection and review was preformed for a variety of sections including maintenance, supply, arms room and operational platoons. The inspections covered their standard operating procedures, serviceability of equipment, entirety of records, regulatory compliance, security measures and safety. The inspection was so thorough Sgt. John Carter, the Standard Army Maintenance System - 1 Enhanced non-commissioned officer-in-charge said, "I thought I was going through a promotion board."
The company began the competition process alongside its sister company, Headquarters Support Company in October 2008. This is the first time USAREUR selected two companies in the same battalion as semi-finalists. From there, they advanced to the Department of the Army. The sister companies became the first in history to be evaluated at the DA level for the competition in a combat zone.
At the DA level Chief Warrant Officer Kenneth E. Foster, RC Ordnance Warrant Officer Proponent Manager and 1st Sgt. Leon J. Chovan, 416th Engineer commander were selected by the United States Army Ordnance Center and School to evaluate the companies. The two companies were well matched against one another, but FSC's comprehensive maintenance, drivers training programs, unit pride and discipline were underlying reasons for its success.
"In addition to focusing on what we do every day, this has brought us all together as a team to achieve a common goal," said Capt. Penny Bloedel, FSC commander.
The Forward Support Company, 54th Engineer Battalion continues on, competing for the Secretary of Defense Phoenix Maintenance Award representing one of only two Army units in the small category from all Army proponents.