Oct. 21, 2010

Virginia Guard Soldiers making an impact in Afghanistan

By 1st Lt. Brian Webb
529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion

SHINBAD AIR BASE, Afghanistan — The Virginia National Guard’s Virginia Beach-based 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion continues to make a positive impact in Afghanistan by providing critical sustainment support to coalition forces in their area of operations as well as helping improve quality of life and promoting economic development in local Afghan communities.

 

Local villagers pose with coalition partners during the site survey. Capt. Eric Quinn stands next to Behzad Roohi with Capt. Luca Bordoni and two locals from the village of Kariz-e Bibi. (Photo courtesy of 529th CSSB)

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The 529th deployed in May 2010 to the remote forward operating base at Shindand Air Base in Afghanistan and operates in Regional Command-West Afghanistan where they are the first U.S. sustainment battalion to locate in the area and conduct operations. Working directly with Italian, Spanish and Afghan forces, the unit’s mission is to provide supply, maintenance and transportation support to U.S. and coalition warfighters throughout the region that covers the four large western provinces of Herat, Farah, Badghis and Ghor.

The battalion has command and control over several active duty units to accomplish their mission: the 104th Transportation Company from Fort Benning, Ga., the 183d Maintenance Company from Fort Carson, Colo., and the 226th Quartermaster Platoon from Fort Stewart, Ga.

The 529th supports more than 5,000 personnel operating in an area approximately the size of Virginia with a population of 3 million Afghans. In the first six months on duty, the battalion’s units have driven more than 84,000 miles in 300 missions and provided more than 1,558,000 gallons of fuel and 1,650,000 gallons of potable water to coalition forces.

The battalion established and operated the only Supply Support Activity in Regional Command-West, providing all classes of supply to all units in the region. The SSA has increased in size from 48 to more than 155 customer units since the battalion’s arrival and has increased its inventory by more than 60%.

Soldiers from the 529th began participating in the Commander’s Emergency Response Program in the villages around Shindand Air Base, and the program provides funds to resource projects in the local communities to assist the local populace with certain life support needs, such as potable water production, power generation and other infrastructure developments. 

The battalion’s supply officer, Capt. Eric Quinn of Blackstone, Va., conducted a site survey Oct. 1 for the installation of a water well at the local village of Kariz-e Bibi, and the battalion has partnered with the Italian Army and the United States Agency for International Development for the Shindand District. USAID is responsible for working with communities to establish the infrastructure requirements they have, and to work with coalition forces to undertake efforts to fix the issues identified.

Most of these projects are small, but very meaningful to the villages. The Italian Army unit in Shindand provided a project officer, Capt. Luca Bordoni, to assist in the planning of the well project and work closely with Quinn to bring the combined assets of both forces together to provide the best possible support to the region.
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