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The 10th Sustainment Brigade in Iraq:
Sustaining the Climb

While deployed to Iraq, a sustainment brigade delivered supplies, fed troops, maintained equipment, participated in joint operations, and fostered a good relationship with local citizens.

A year after the surge in Iraq, in the fall of 2008, the “Muleskinners” of the 10th Sustainment Brigade from Fort Drum, New York, began their tour of duty after the transfer of authority with the 1st Sustainment Brigade from Fort Riley, Kansas. The brigade began orchestrating sustainment support for more than 140,000 Soldiers, Marines, and civilians operating in a battlespace that encompassed one-third of Iraq. This area included all of Multi-National Division-Baghdad and Multi-National Forces West (MNF-West).

This was the brigade's first deployment to Iraq, but it had returned from a deployment to Afghanistan in 2007, where it had served as a joint logistics command. The 10th Sustainment Brigade is not a fixed organization, and the Soldiers who served in this diverse organization came from New York, Texas, Indiana, Washington, Georgia, Puerto Rico, and Germany. During the deployment, more than 8,000 Soldiers served under the 10th Sustainment Brigade in 9 subordinate battalions and over 70 company-sized units.

Spartan Field Kitchen

Sustainment Operations

In 1 year, the 10th Sustainment Brigade issued over 80,000 cases of meals ready-to-eat, fed nearly 60,000 customers in the Muleskinner dining facility, and delivered over 11 million cases of bottled water to battle the 100-degree heat the Soldiers faced day in and day out. The brigade delivered over 100 million gallons of JP8 fuel to its subordinate units throughout its sector and issued over 4.5 million rounds of class V (ammunition), ranging from small-arms ammunition for marksmanship ranges to large rockets used for combat operations and force protection.

Using the two-level maintenance system, maintainers of the 10th Sustainment Brigade provided field and sustainment maintenance support, repaired not-mission-capable equipment, completed required maintenance services, and kept the newly issued mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles mission ready.

The transportation companies of the four combat sustainment support battalions moved every class of supply and drove just under 4 million miles on dangerous main supply routes during the deployment.

Finance and Human Resources Operations

During the brigade's deployment to Afghanistan in 2006, it had a personnel and finance battalion as part of its task organization. But during its deployment to Iraq, these battalions no longer existed because of the Army's change to modular organizations. The new special troops battalion comprised a financial management company and a human resources company commanded by majors. The 10th Sustainment Brigade human re-sources operations branch and financial management operations cell managed these companies, but the mission command came from the special troops battalion.

The human resources company's missions included personnel management and services for casualty operations, battlefield promotions, the Deployed Theater Accountability System, joint personnel status and casualty reports, rest and recuperation, and plans and operations. The two human resources companies that served in the 10th Sustainment Brigade processed over 2 million pieces of mail and manifested just under a half million Soldiers and civilians at Baghdad International Airport.

The two financial management companies provided financial assistance to all military personnel and Department of Defense civilians in Baghdad and Taji. They provided first-class finance customer service, cashed checks, set up Eagle Cash Cards, and enrolled troops in the deployment savings plan. The finance platoons traveled to remote forward operating bases that had as few as 10 Soldiers to provide financial support. The finance companies that served under the 10th Sustainment Brigade paid out over $200 million in check cashing, assisted with Soldiers' pay problems, and worked with paying agents to purchase goods and fund projects in Multi-National Division-Baghdad.

MNF-West Sustainment Operations

The brigade had one of its combat sustainment support battalions at Al Asad Air Base to support the missions in MNF-West. This was an important base because the Soldiers were constantly arriving and departing the theater through it instead of flying into and out of the country at Baghdad International Airport. Currently, Al Asad Air Base is being used as a logistics hub, but in the future, it will become a key training base as well.

The brigade owned the joint distribution yard, which was instrumental in managing the movement of equipment and ensuring that equipment did not reside in the yard for longer than 96 hours. The brigade set high standards for its central receiving and shipping point yard operations and moved more than 70,000 pieces of equipment during each 96-hour period for the entire year.

Another one of the brigade's massive missions was the joint air cargo operations terminal. This was truly a joint mission among the Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps. Marines were in control of the operations at the arrival/departure airfield control group; however, the 10th Sustainment Brigade provided Soldiers to conduct human resources operations.

Fostering Relationships With Iraqi Citizens

The 10th Sustainment Brigade S–2 section, with the assistance of the 2d Battalion, 36th Iraqi Army Brigade, donated school supplies to the Al Mustaqbal School in Salah ad-Din province. The brigade S–2 noncommissioned officer collected paper, notepads, pencils, pens, book bags, books, erasers, and other supplies to donate to the school. This effort is just one example of the many ways the 10th Sustainment Brigade Muleskinners contributed during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

In October 2009, the 10th Sustainment Brigade handed the reins over to the 96th Sustainment Brigade from Salt Lake City, Utah. Throughout the deployment, the Muleskinners performed admirably and did an outstanding job of providing world-class support to its 140,000 customers. The brigade stands ready for its Nation's call to sustain the climb.

Major Sherdrick S. Rankin, Sr., is currently attending the School of Advanced Military Studies at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He was a company commander and the battalion S–3 in the 10th Sustainment Brigade during Operation Iraqi Freedom 09–11. He has a B.A. degree in history from Fayetteville State University and an M.B.A. degree in human resources from Baker College. He is a graduate of the Quartermaster Officer Basic Course, Combined Logistics Captains Career Course, Mortuary Affairs Course, Joint Planners Course, Space Course, and Army Command and General Staff College.



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