escort team (SET) members prepare for a recovery
mission. Two M1117 armored security
vehicles flank two M1114 uparmored HMMWVs.
T??he call comes in to the battalion from the “Sheriff’s
Net” [the emergency radio frequency]. Another improvised
explosive device (IED) has detonated, leaving two vehicles
damaged and inoperable. Knowing that time is critical, the
members of the battalion tactical operations center (TOC) quickly
take action. Their first call goes out to the battalion recovery
team. This team is composed of personnel from the security
escort team (SET) and several Kellogg, Brown, and Root (KBR)
recovery vehicle operators. The recovery team arrives at the
TOC just as the battle noncommissioned officer (NCO) finishes
collecting all the information essential to the success of
the mission. The team leaves the TOC and arrives at the recovery
site, where their first order of business is setting up security
around the disabled vehicles. Once security has been established,
the KBR team moves in and loads up the damaged vehicles. With
equipment in tow, the SET and KBR personnel drive back to base.
The recovery team has accomplished its missions—to recover
disabled vehicles and keep the roads open.
This scenario was repeated many times during the yearlong deployment
of Logistics Task Force 548. The headquarters element that
provided all the vital information was the 548th Corps Support
Battalion, a 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) unit from
Fort Drum, New York. The battalion was task-organized in support
of Operation Iraqi Freedom 05–07 as Logistics Task Force
(LTF) 548. It was the command and control element for eight
companies. One of those companies was B Battery, 5th Battalion,
113th Field Artillery Regiment, a National Guard unit from
Winston-Salem, North Carolina, that began performing recovery
and SET missions in December 2005.
LTF 548 became accustomed to sending out SETs, but how did
they know which recovery assets were needed and where to dispatch
them? B Battery obtained this information either when it was
contacted by the 40th Corps Support Group or by monitoring
the Sheriff’s Net. The TOC used both avenues of
information to ensure that the SET got all vital information
in a timely manner. This information, which was so vital to
the mission, came from the 101st Airborne Division’s
Secret Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNet). The LTF
S–3 section monitored the 101st SIPRNet 24 hours a day,
7 days a week, for any significant activities in order to ensure
that the teams received the latest intelligence. This intelligence
consisted of a strip map and the latest IED and enemy activity
information. This information was not only important for accomplishing
the mission but also for ensuring the safety of the recovery
team members. The recovery teams had a 100-percent success
rate, even when the disabled vehicle belonged to the recovery
In Iraq, a recovery mission is not just about leaving the secured
area, recovering a disabled vehicle, and returning to base.
It has become more of a combat mission than a support mission.
On several occasions, the SETs have taken direct fire (small
arms) and indirect fire (mortar). “We drive out to a
site, set up, and pull security while KBR hooks up the (disabled)
vehicle. More time, than not, we can roll back without further
incident, but sometimes things happen,” said Master Sergeant
Joey Ireland, B Battery platoon sergeant, who has seen the
power of an IED first hand. The composition of the SETs and
the equipment in the convoy protection platforms (CPPs) are
imperative to recovery mission success.
|A SET member
provides security for Kellogg, Brown, and Root
personnel recovering an overturned vehicle.
The recovery team was composed of four CPPs: three M1117
armored security vehicles and one M1114 up-armored high-mobility,
wheeled vehicle (HMMWV) that was used primarily as the command
and control vehicle. The vehicles were equipped with all
of the equipment needed to survive while driving the IED-laden
roads around LSA Anaconda. This equipment included extra
mounted on the vehicles and horns; some of the vehicles even
had sirens. The most significant vehicle upgrades were found
inside with the tools that help save lives on the recovery
missions—Blue Force Tracker (BFT) and the Movement
Tracking System (MTS).
Air support could be a valuable ally for the SETs. However,
it was seldom available. Although it was an effective deterrent
to both direct and indirect fire, it was seldom possible to
obtain. Only about 4 percent of the recovery missions were
covered by air support.
LTF 548 used MTS and BFT to monitor recovery missions. MTS
and BFT use state-of-the-art technology and satellite linkup
to provide up-to-date information to the battalion and battery
operations centers (BOCs). According to Sergeant First Class
Thomas Camus, B Battery platoon sergeant and communications
sergeant, the systems are similar. “Both use satellite
to relay signals from base to vehicle, which allows the SETs
to communicate digitally and receive the most up-to-date-data.
However, the MTS and the BFT cannot communicate with each other.” Camus
added, “I wouldn’t leave the wire without either
Area of Operations
LSA Anaconda is the primary logistics support base in Iraq.
Located near the town of Balad, just north of Baghdad, it
is spread over 15 square miles. The base is home to approximately
25,000 Soldiers, Airmen, Marines, and civilians. The base
has two runways and is the busiest airport in Iraq. LSA Anaconda
directly supports all surrounding forward operating bases
with personnel, equipment, and logistics support. B Battery
was responsible for the recovery of any inoperable vehicle
within a large radius of LSA Anaconda. To ensure that all
inoperable vehicles that fell within that radius got assistance
as quickly as possible, LTF 548 ran operations 24 hours a
day, 7 days a week. Response time was usually 25 to 30 minutes.
LTF 548 was not the only unit monitoring the recovery mission.
B Battery also monitored the recovery mission. Two huge maps
hung on the wall of B Battery’s operations center—one
of the areas in which the battery was responsible for recovery,
the other of the entire country. The map of LSA Anaconda
had markings of checkpoints and the latest IED information
obtained from LTF 548. The operations center used this information
to notify the SETs if they were entering a trouble area.
The operations center used MTS, BTF, and the Single-Channel
Ground and Airborne Radio System (SINGARS) to track each
To decrease the time from getting the call to leaving the
gate, the SETs stayed in the battalion housing area, which
was made up of several containerized housing units, when
they were the primary recovery team. Having the SETs housed
in the battalion housing area lowered the team’s response
SET members provide security while an explosive ordnance
disposal team prepares to clear
an improvised explosive device. Note the robot on
the road that will be used to help clear the IED.
Many civilians had important roles at LSA Anaconda. KBR
drivers drove the vehicles used in towing all disabled
LTF 548’s area of operations. The KBR recovery team
had two vehicles—a wrecker and a heavy equipment transporter
(HET). The KBR recovery team drivers stayed in the containerized
housing units with the other members of the recovery team.
This reduced the recovery response time by as much as 30
minutes. According to Sergeant First Class Jerry Jones, B
Battery platoon sergeant, “They are the ones who
are at the most risk when we get to the site. They are
on recovering the vehicle, not about how exposed they truly
are. They are the ones that get dirty and greasy during
a recovery. We supply protection in order for them [KBR]
do it as quickly and safely as possible.”
An important logistics operation that the recovery teams
depended on was provided by the maintenance support section.
This section provided the service and maintenance for the
CPPs. An important aspect of maintenance was ordering and
maintaining a parts supply, which presented a challenge because
the vehicles being maintained were different from those the
unit used at home station. Despite this, the maintenance
section maintained a greater than 98-percent operational
readiness rate while in theater.
The success of LTF 548 and B Battery, 5th Battalion, 113th
Field Artillery Regiment, cannot be summed up in simple words.
The truth, as they say, is in the pudding: LTF 548 executed
180 successful recovery missions in which they returned with
100 percent of the vehicles they were sent to recover. All
missions were executed with minimal damage to the recovery
vehicles and no fatalities to the recovery personnel. In
the end, that is what really matters.
First Lieutenant Robert E. Klinger, NCARNG, was the 3d
Platoon Leader and 3d Security Escort Team Convoy Commander
Battery, 5th Battalion, 113th Field Artillery Regiment, during
his rotation to Operation Iraqi Freedom. He has a bachelor’s
degree from Kutztown University of Pennsylvania and is a
graduate of the Field Artillery Officer Basic Course.