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What’s in store for you

 

Written by Sgt. 1st Class Pete Mayes
101st Sustainment Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (AA) Public Affairs

101st Sustainment Brigade - LifelinersFort Campbell KY, 101st Airborne DivisionBagram Airfield, Afghanistan – Soldier with the 10th Sustainment Brigade got a taste of what their deployment to Afghanistan will look like when they assisted the 101st Sustainment Brigade in conducting a last-minute emergency resupply mission.

The Lifeliners received an order to supply Task Force-Currahee with 60 bundles of ammunition late Thursday evening, said Maj. Joe Suddith, 101st Sustainment Brigade Support Operations officer. They immediately tasked the brigade’s rigger detachment to start prepping the bundles, he said.

Sgt. 1st Class Narada Johnson (right), a rigger assigned to the 4/647th Quartermaster Detachment, 101st Special Troops Battalion, 101st Sustainment Brigade, instructs Staff Sgt. James Menard of the 101st Sustainment Brigade Support Operations, on how to properly rig a bundle. The Detachment worked long into the night and early morning hours preparing 60 bundles of ammunition and water for soldiers at Task Force-Currahee. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Peter Mayes)

Sgt. 1st Class Narada Johnson (right), a rigger assigned to the 4/647th Quartermaster Detachment, 101st Special Troops Battalion, 101st Sustainment Brigade, instructs Staff Sgt. James Menard of the 101st Sustainment Brigade Support Operations, on how to properly rig a bundle. The Detachment worked long into the night and early morning hours preparing 60 bundles of ammunition and water for soldiers at Task Force-Currahee. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Peter Mayes)

The riggers, along with the soldiers from the 101st Special Troops Battalion, 101st Sustainment Brigade, spent 12 hours preparing the bundles. They finally finished preparing the bundles at about 7:00am, he said.

“These riggers understand their role in maintaining combat logistics operations,” Suddith said. “This short-notice mission proves they take their jobs seriously.”

The 10th Sustainment Brigade “Muleskinners,” based out of Fort Drum, NY, is scheduled to replace the “Lifeliners” in combat logistics operations supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. The brigade sent a team to Bagram to learn the Lifeliners’ mission in preparation for their upcoming deployment.

In the end, they got a bit more than they bargained for.

“It’s hard to wrap your mind around the intensity of operations here in Afghanistan,” Suddith said of the Muleskinner’s experience. “It’s not Iraq. At all. The paced is quicker, the challenges are tougher …they got some first-hand experience with what some of those challenges are.”

The riggers worked into the early morning hours, carefully packing the bundles of 155 mm rounds of ammunition and water by hand. There are is no hi-tech equipment or any other machines involved in this process (other than a forklift to lift the bundles onto the pallets).

Staff Sgt. James Menard, noncommissioned officer in charge of the 101st Sustainment Brigade Support Operation’s Class I section, had never participated in bundling supplies before, but joined in helping get the supplies ready for movement.

He described the activity as a “very tedious process.” “You have to continue doing the same thing over and over again, and if you slip up, you have to start all over,” he said.

Each bundle containing the rounds weighed approximately 1,860 pounds – the equivalent weight of a 1974 Volkswagen Beetle, Suddith said. It took each group of riggers and soldiers approximately one hour to properly bundle the supplies for delivery.

Many of the riggers had already put a long day of work at the rigger shed, packing other bundles of supply for distribution. Still, there were no complaints from these soldiers, or from the soldiers with the 101st Special Troops Battalion or the 10th Sustainment Brigade.

Although he is the Lifeliners SPO officer in charge, Suddith was not averse to rolling up his sleeves and helping out.

“The conversation I had with my 10th Mountain counterparts was every decision you make affects somebody,” he said. “The reason why I was because of the decision I made for the emergency drop. And if I’m going to ask them stay out there and work, they need to see the guy who made that decision extend a little personal energy as well.”

Suddith also praised the STB soldiers who helped out with the re-supply.

“The riggers belong to the STB. That’s leadership showing that our guys are willing to go through this with you,” he said. “When you sit on a brigade or battalion headquarters staff, it’s important to understand the decisions you make everyday affect execution at the other end. It’s important to understand what you’re asking people to do so that you don’t make them lightly.”

Menard said he hoped the shared experience with the Muleskinners gave them a greater appreciation of what they are going to inherit.

“It’s very time consuming, what these guys do here. I only hope they have the same professionalism and get after it attitude that we use every day to get missions done,” he said.


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