News: Lifeliners assume command in Afghanistan
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Peter Mayes
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan – The 101st Sustainment Brigade officially took control of logistical operations from the 82nd Sustainment Brigade during a Transfer of Authority ceremony.
With that ceremony, the “Lifeliners” have assumed operational control of logistics for RC-East, Central and North. For Brigade commander Col. Michael Peterman, the mission is more than about moving cargo and supplies from one route to another.
“We must give [the Afghan people] life skills. We have to help the Afghan National Army build and hold the muscle necessary for securing their country,” he said. “As we go toward 2014, we can look them in the eye and know that we helped them build a system where they can support themselves,” he said.
Peterman is an advocate of “three-dimensional logistics” – that is, using available air and ground space to get needed cargo to Soldiers at the various Forward Operating Bases in his regions. But he also said he is an advocate of building partnerships with the Afghan people that will lead them to greater self-sufficiency.
This is the brigade’s fifth deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Since assuming command of the 101st Sustainment Brigade in June 2009, everything Peterman has tried to prepare his unit for has been for this purpose.
They spent the past 18 months preparing for their mission. One of the key themes Peterman stressed to his troops was partnership with the local Afghan populace. That meant his brigade taking a hands-on approach on helping ensure the Afghan’s economic success as well as being able to protect their own.
“We found that many of the companies here don’t hire Afghan workers. That is not supporting Gen. [David] Petraeus’ intent here,” Peterman said. “There’s a huge potential here for recruitment and growth.”
As for the overarching mission of getting supplies to the Soldiers, Peterman has a checklist of projects, including aerial delivery, fuel transport, and mail distribution.
Other projects include overseeing the construction of a Joint Management Distribution Center and working with the Afghan National Army logistics commander at FOB Dawson-Petrie.
Peterman and Brigade Command Sgt. Maj. David Thompson spent Thanksgiving Day visiting Soldiers around BAF, thanking them for what they do and for the upcoming mission.
“Many of these guys have been deployed here three or four times. It’s the least we can do for these guys,” Peterman said. “We succeed at our mission because we have good leaders and soldiers who are a part of this.”
The commander also praised the 82nd Sustainment Brigade for helping facilitate a “seamless transition.”
“This is what professionals do. We’ve been ripping together for almost one year. Anytime you have two great units working together, you’ll have a great hand-off,” he said. “We want to do the same for our replacement when they arrive.”
Sustainment Brigades in general do not receive the media attention of their counterparts in Brigade Combat teams, or Aviation units. To a certain degree, Peterman said that’s fine with him.
“We’re the quiet professionals. We know who we are and we don’t need the fanfare,” he said.
“The smile on a soldier’s face when he receives his mail, or food on the table…that’s our thanks,” Thompson said.