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    311th Expeditionary Sustainment Command Reflects on Deployment during a Pandemic



    Story by Capt. Ramee Opperude 

    311th Expeditionary Sustainment Command   

    CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait – Soldiers from the Los Angeles based, 311th Expeditionary Sustainment Command are recently returned to the United States following a nearly year-long deployment to the Middle East.

    The 311th ESC ‘Centurions’ provided sustainment mission command and operational-level sustainment to the Army and multinational forces within the U.S. Central Command areas of operations. The Centurions ensured hundreds of tactical and operational-level sustainment units were able to support forces from the U.S. Army, Joint Forces, Interagency, and Multinational Forces in order to enable unified land operations.

    “The most demanding part of leading training in a COVID-19 environment was the challenges of social distance requirements,” said Staff Sgt. Eric Smith, training and operations noncommissioned officer, 311th ESC. “We were able to balance operations and individual training throughout the deployment but it took adaptive and agile leaders that really made these missions a success” added Smith.

    “As our time in theater came to an end, the 310th Expeditionary Sustainment Command prepared to assume the mission. The entire Operations team came together to compile lessons learned and continuity books. It was clear from the beginning the importance of a smooth transition with an emphasis on COVID-19 compliance,” said Smith.

    In order for the outgoing unit to redeploy, the incoming unit and associated equipment must be in place and ready to assume responsibility. This type of unit substitution is referred to as RIP/TOA, meaning relief in place and transfer of authority.

    “We encountered some truly unique challenges this past year. There were some uphill fights but ultimately the team prevailed, added Command Sgt. Maj. George Luedtke, senior enlisted advisor, 311th ESC.” We continued to train and execute operations with a focus on the health of our force while government and military leaders across the globe reacted to a growing pandemic,” added Luedtke.

    A key area of emphasis for the 311th ESC was the Counter-ISIS Train and Equip Fund-Iraq (CTEF-I) mission. The CTEF-I team coordinated and enabled the supply of equipment in Iraq. From 2020-2021, this team assisted the Combined Joint Task Force- Operation Inherent Resolve in strengthening relationships and in building partner capacity in Iraq.

    “I am extremely proud of the men and women in this formation as they reacted to the challenges that were presented each day. It was not easy and they can hold their heads high that they adapted, executed their jobs, and directly contributed to the success of multiple operations across the Middle East,” said Luedtke.

    Throughout the year the 311th ESC was faced with new COVID-19 strategies and changing requirements to protect the force. Despite these challenges, the unit remained focused on Soldier development and prioritized readiness, discipline, safety and standards.

    One event that required discipline and perseverance was the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge test. This competition challenged hundreds of Soldiers from across Kuwait who competed for the prestigious foreign military skill badge.
    The event was executed while maintaining and even implementing new force health protection requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “Participating in the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge was a new and exciting challenge for myself,” said Sgt. 1st Class Alicia Gonzalez-Cruz, support operations maintenance manager, 311th ESC. “I could not have done it without the support and encouragement of my friends and graders who gave me advice before executing each event,” added Gonzalez-Cruz. “The one thing that motivated me was seeing all branches of the military and foreign militaries cheering at each event to go for Gold.”

    For many Centurion Soldiers the deployment was a unique balance of operational support, professional development and new experiences.

    “Training Soldiers is one of the most rewarding feelings I have as a leader. Soldiers learn by having the opportunity to experience success and failure, and as a leader you must hold Soldiers accountable, motivate and guide them to become future leaders.”

    “I continue to challenge Soldiers and instill discipline by doing what needs to be done. I stress to Soldiers, never get discouraged by failure, take it as a lesson learned and how to improve, do not allow your excuses to set you back from developing yourself as a leader; and (for leaders) be open to what Soldiers can teach you from their own personal experiences,” added Gonzalez-Cruz.



    Date Taken: 01.09.2021
    Date Posted: 01.10.2021 14:20
    Story ID: 386653
    Location: LOS ANGELES, CA, US 

    Web Views: 72
    Downloads: 1