War on Terrorism

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

State National Guard unit wrapping up mission in Iraq

March 23, 2010 - Since July of 2009, the Tomah-based headquarters element of the 732nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion has played a large role in the drawdown of forces in Iraq by transferring approximately 7,000 pieces of equipment back to the United States or laterally to Afghanistan.

By the end of this month, the unit will begin sending some of its own equipment back to Wisconsin in preparation for the end of its deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. According to Maj. Kevin Gregar, executive officer for the 732nd, that has morale picking up.

"You can see the light at the end of the tunnel," Gregar said. "We know when the transfer of authority should be. We're working on our redeployment list and packing up totes."

The 732nd CSSB headquarters unit, stationed at Camp Tallil, has provided logistical support for between 10 and 12 forward operating bases in southern Iraq as well as areas north and west of Baghdad, and also supports the 1st Infantry Division in Iraq and the Iraqi Army in their security missions with food, water and transportation vehicles. It's a big job, Gregar acknowledged - bigger than typically handled by a battalion headquarters company.

"When we were getting ready for this mission, we thought we would have four to seven companies," he explained. A battalion typically consists of four to five company-sized elements, or about 500 people. The 732nd headquarters is presently managing eight companies, and has seen 15 companies come and go during their deployment.

"We began with 1,100 [Soldiers] and now we are at 1,200," Gregar said. "You can't manage that many people without a lot of people stepping up and doing more than they normally would, putting in the hours. The people of the 732nd have stepped up and they've been exemplary. It's just amazing, the strong work ethic our Soldiers bring to the job they do."

The number of Soldiers the 732nd headquarters oversees is expected to go down to around 900, Gregar said. Also, many brigade combat teams are leaving Iraq to bring troop levels down to about 50,000 by Sept. 1, which means their replacement unit - the 110th CSSB of the Georgia Army National Guard - will be busy in the upcoming months. During the drawdown, the number of military bases requiring support will be reduced from 12 to three.

"The word 'historic' gets thrown around a lot," Gregar observed, "but this is truly historic."

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