Written by Sgt. Leejay Lockhart
101st Sustainment Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (AA) Public Affairs
Fort Campbell, KY – While the majority of Fort Campbell Soldiers have returned from their deployment in support of Operation United Assistance, there is still work to do.
All of the units that deployed have the massive task of retrieving their equipment so they can prepare it for reset. Reset is where the Army refurbishes equipment used or damaged during a deployment and restores it so it is fully capable for the unit’s next Rendezvous with Destiny.
To accomplish this mission, Soldiers started receiving tractor-trailers loaded with equipment at the Campbell Rail Operations Facility March 24th.
They also ran a second site off of Wickham Avenue to unload rolling stock, like vehicles, generators, and trailers.
The Soldiers came from all of the units that deployed to Africa to provide humanitarian assistance to people affected by the Ebola outbreak including the 101st Airborne Division Headquarters, the 101st Sustainment Brigade, and the 86th Combat Support Hospital.
Fort Campbell was the final destination of a long journey which began in Africa. Before they returned home from their deployment, many of these same Soldiers loaded equipment onto a ship, which sailed to Jacksonville, Florida. From there, the equipment moved to tractor-trailers, and then those trucks drove to Fort Campbell.
As tractor-trailers carried heavy loads into the CROF, Soldiers quickly accounted for each item as they unloaded them. Then the Soldiers transported the equipment to its designated area. Sometimes this was as easy as driving a vehicle off the truck and back to the unit’s motor pool.
Other times it required the use of forklift or a crane to unload the equipment, along with providing a vehicle to transport it and then unloading it at its destination.
“We are in the process of receiving over 500 pieces of equipment returning from OUA,” said Maj. Kareem Toomer, assistant maintenance readiness division chief. “The units have been really proactive in getting their equipment.”
He said it would take about a week to receive all of the equipment. While using line haul was more cost effective for this move, it also required more flexibility than planning for a train to arrive with all of the equipment at once. The trucks arrived at different times, and it was far less predictable than a train.
“With rail we can load as many cars as we want, as opposed to line haul, we have to one make sure the trailer beds can handle the loads we put on them,” said Staff Sgt. George McGraw, a unit movement officer with the 86th CSH.
He said it takes experience to be successful as a UMO, and the most important part of his job is making sure the Soldiers understand their role and understand safety when doing railhead operations.
“If the junior enlisted understand it makes it so much easier to account for property and take care of the commander’s hand receipt,” said McGraw.
To keep the operation running smoothly took planning.
“The first few hours of the first day was pretty significant,” said Toomer. Though he said after the first initial rush the trucks began to stagger out making their arrivals easy to manage.
In addition to DES, he said the Arrival/Departure Airfield Control Group, the Installation Transportation Office and the medics all supported the operation.
Though he singled out the Soldiers of the 74th Composite Transportation Company, 129th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 101st Sust. Bde., 101st Abn. Div., for their impact in assisting with ensuring all of the units received their equipment. “…they really went above and beyond,” said Toomer.
Although Toomer said they didn’t have the optimal number of Soldiers available because of the redeployment, the operation still went well due to the hard work of the Soldiers on site. They ensured accountability and returned the equipment to the units and laid the groundwork for the start of a successful equipment reset.
The operation went smoothly,” said Toomer. “The Soldiers were really motivated. They jumped right on the containers and it was one big fat team effort, which is a beautiful thing.”