By Cpl. Michael Molinar, USA
FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU, Iraq, July 26, 2006 – Support battalions are the backbone of the Army's brigade combat teams, aiding and sustaining them in a variety of ways. But continuing its mission while preparing for and conducting a unit move to another base would be a challenge for any unit. Army Sgt. 1st Class Roderick Raymond, logistics noncommissioned officer-in-charge for 204th Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, supervises the movement of a supply container July 16 at Forward Operating Base Duke. The unit is moving to another base while keeping up its sustainment mission.
Still, soldiers from 204th Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, see moving here from Forward Operating Base Duke as one step closer to going home and leaving Iraq a more stable and secure nation. "This move is the last in several large moves we've made," Army Capt. Daniel Krug, the battalion's operations officer, said. "A large area has already been transitioned. The military and border transition teams here will continue to mentor the Iraqi security forces."
Moving from FOB Duke in Najaf province will help the battalion to better support units to the north, he added. FOB Duke is scheduled to be turned over to Iraqi forces later this summer. The support battalion support 2nd Brigade Combat Team units by delivering its water, building materials, rations, maintenance supplies and providing medical support. The battalion runs one to two logistical package runs -- known as logpacs -- a day in the brigade area of operations. It also retrieves broken-down vehicles and equipment, repairs the items and returns them to the units.
"We continue to push logpacs every single night," Krug said. "Even though we are preparing to move, we haven't stopped our mission and are maintaining 100 percent sustainment to the brigade." Besides delivering their usual supplies to FOB Kalsu, soldiers also are bringing non-essential equipment, such as heavy equipment and supply containers, during logpacs, Army Sgt. Angus Claytor, a truck driver with Company A, 204th SB, said.
The battalion also has addressed other issues, such as force protection measures and living space. The battalion is pre-positioning living containers at FOB Kalsu, Krug said. Leaders want to make the move as seamless as possible for soldiers. Gravel is being hauled to FOB Kalsu, as well, so the battalion can create a solid base for its warehouse and motor pool. Soldiers said they are viewing the move as a sign of progress in Iraqi forces.
"It's a good thing," Army Sgt. Laura Williams, a truck driver with Company A said. "We have been training the Iraqis the whole deployment, and now we can give them the area." "I like (FOB) Duke better, but it's one step closer to going home," Pfc. Octavio Foster, a truck driver with Company A, said. "That's all any of us want to do."
Moving to FOB Kalsu is the latest in a string of transfers of battle space and bases between Multinational Division Baghdad and Iraqi forces over the past few months. Officials have said Iraqi forces continue to make great strides all over Iraq -- which is exactly what leaders from 4th Infantry Division imagined before deploying.
"This whole move falls under Multinational Division Baghdad's campaign plan to transition areas of operations to the Iraqis," Krug said. "I remember the Iraqi army in 2003 (during Operation Iraqi Freedom I) and they had a tough job," he said. "Now they are planning missions, going on the roads, and the soldiers are more dedicated. This is a good thing."
(Army Cpl. Michael Molinar is assigned to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.)