LOGAR PROVINCE, Afgahnistan - Over the past 12 months, despite the hazards of three training rotations in Europe, the deployment of half of the battalion to Afghanistan, as well as the continued execution of sustainment operations in support of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, the 173rd Brigade Support Battalion has once again successfully earned the Army Safety Excellence Streamer for superior achievement in accident prevention.
Lt. Col. Luis A. Velez, commander of the 173rd BSB, presented each unit within the battalion a company-level safety streamer for their demonstrated excellence in the area of unit safety, and prided the efforts of both commanders and soldiers. Velez noted that “this effort was spearheaded by all company commanders, first sergeants, as well as company safety officers who made this happen, and I am proud of you all for your continued support and diligence.”
The battalion was also awarded the Army Safety Excellence Streamer to be added to the unit colors which was presented by Col. Andrew M. Rohling, commander of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team. In his remarks to paratroopers following the presentation of the safety streamer Rohling stated “I am truly proud of the hard work and dedication to safety that the BSB has displayed in earning this recognition for two years in a row. Part of our mission in Afghanistan has been the retrograde of excess equipment within our battle space which in itself can be a quite hazardous endeavor.”
“The BSB has been at the forefront of the movement of over 350 containers by ground and this group of paratroopers are truly the unsung heroes of the brigade.”
The Army Safety Excellence Streamer is awarded to detachments, company-sized units, battalion-level units or higher who have demonstrated safety excellence, upheld Army safety standards, and have not had any reportable Class A or B accidents for the past 365 days. In order to earn this esteemed award all Soldiers of the BSB had to complete the Army Composite Risk Management Course and the Army Readiness Assessment Program survey. Company commanders were also required to complete the Commander’s Safety Course.
“The course is very thorough and truly engages leadership to take into account some safety considerations that they may have not thought about before,” said Capt. David Molina, the BSB’s medical company commander.
Capt. Matthew Schneller, commander of the BSB’s maintenance company, deferred credit for the award to the members of his company.
“The only reason we received this award is because of the fact that our Soldiers did great things,” he said. “At the end of the day, commanders can issue guidance and develop a vision, but in the end it takes Soldiers to execute and carry out the mission, this is exactly what they have done.”
Paratroopers of the 173rd BSB provide support to not only Logar Province, but Wardak Province as well. Combat Logistical Patrols routinely travel through four provinces, including the city of Kabul and the crews of the BSB’s distribution company have driven thousands of miles delivering all classes of supplies.
While the maintenance company is on the road, at Forward Operating Base Shank in Logar province, the battalion’s medical and maintenance companies remain busy treating dozens of sick call patients and injuries on a weekly basis as well as repairing vehicles, generators, and weapons. These monumental tasks have been conducted with no severe incidents or injuries which have helped the unit maximize its manpower and efficiency.
At Warner Barracks in Bamberg, Germany, the battalion’s rear detachment has also placed safety at its forefront, ensuring members of the unit completed the online training and were alert to the dangers.
“It is no easy task keeping soldiers focused on safety, especially when they are thinking of their battalion brothers and sisters in Afghanistan and also have the distractions of living OCONUS, but I think we’ve done a good job,” said Capt. Ivan Bermudez, the 173rd BSB rear detachment commander.
In the end, the battalion continues to conduct its mission with safety at the forefront in all endeavors. As the unit gets closer to redeployment it will continue to apply lessons learned in order to ensure that not only the 173rd ABCT continues to receive world-class support but members of the 173rd BSB remain safe in carrying out their mission.
By Capt. Christopher Webb, 173rd Brigade Support Battalion