May 5 , 2010
529th CSSB validated for duty in Afghanistan
By Maj. Cotton Puryear
Virginia Guard Public Affairs
FORT HOOD, Texas — The Virginia National Guard’s Virginia Beach-based 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group received its validation May 3, 2010 that approved the battalion for duty in Afghanistan after weeks of training at Fort Hood, Texas. The unit is expected to leave the mobilization training station by the middle of May and arrive in Afghanistan for a week of additional training before their mission starts.
Soldiers from the Virginia Beach-based 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion conduct Army Warrior Task training at Fort Hood, Texas. (Photo courtesy 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion)
“We signed off on the letter that validates their mission readiness,” said Col. J.T. Smith, commander of the 120th Training Support Brigade, the unit tasked with training and mentoring the 529th at Fort Hood. “They are appropriately manned, trained and equipped for their mission, and we are fully confident this unit is ready to do what their country is asking them to do in Afghanistan.”
The approximately 80 Soldiers of the 529th will operate as a command and control headquarters with the mission of planning and executing combat sustainment support for U.S. and coalition forces. The U. S. Army uses the term “sustainment” to describe a wide range of logistics support such as maintenance, food service, fueling, personnel and cargo transportation and medical support.
The unit is scheduled to establish an expeditionary sustainment base at Shindand Airbase in western Afghanistan, explained Lt. Col. Michelle Rose, commander of the 529th. Since there is no Army unit currently stationed at the base, the battalion’s Soldiers and leaders have been preparing for the mission without what’s known as the “left seat/right seat ride,” where the new unit would gain insights about the mission from the unit it would be replacing.
“There is no sustainment going on in Regional Command West,” Rose said. “All of the units operating in the region are having to travel hundreds of kilometers to the depot level in order to get supplies. We are going to become the middle man for those units and establish sustainment operations by U. S. Army doctrine standards.”
The only thing on the airbase right now is the landing strip and basic structures for the airfield operations, so the 529th will be building the sustainment and life support infrastructure from scratch, Rose said. The battalion will bring in supplies from the depot level and then be charged with pushing the needed supplies to U.S. and coalition forces operating in over 16 different operating bases in the western region of Afghanistan.
Rose said the battalion will receive a transportation company to provide convoy security for contracted supply trucks moving supplies as well as a maintenance company that will work to keep all the vehicles and equipment operating. In addition to providing maintenance on the airbase, the maintenance personnel will also move forward to provide maintenance support at the operating bases. The battalion will also receive a quartermaster platoon to run the supply yard on the base when it is established.
The battalion will also have the “mayor” duties at Shindand and be responsible for the quality of life functions for all the personnel on the base.
Rose said the unit received a great deal of positive feedback from the trainers at Fort Hood about their ability to plan complex sustainment operations, and she credits the 18-month train up the battalion conducted prior to mobilizing with the unit’s success at Fort Hood. The training began with staff training at Camp Dodge, Iowa, in April 2009 and culminated in a full-blown simulation exercise for the battalion staff conducted at the State Military Reservation in January 2010.