The Army is transforming to maintain U.S. military
preeminence in the face of unpredictable changes in the strategic
security environment. This transformation focuses on current
and emerging strategic and operational challenges. To achieve
success on the battlefield, the Army must continually transform
and seek innovations to defeat future adversaries on the battlefield.
In order to provide the logistics support needed to sustain
combat units, the Army has formed modular sustainment brigades
for sustaining its modular brigade combat teams (BCTs). The
15th Sustainment Brigade from Fort Hood, Texas, is one of
the newly reflagged sustainment brigades. The 15th Sustainment
Brigade deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom in August 2006.
In garrison, the brigade has a brigade troops battalion and
a personnel services battalion in its task organization. However,
once deployed, the 15th Sustainment Brigade gained three combat
sustainment support battalions.
Logistics Center of Gravity
The 15th Sustainment Brigade’s mission was to provide
direct support to units operating in the Multi-National Division-Baghdad
(MND–B) area of
operations (AO). Providing support to the units in the MND–B
AO was difficult, but it was critical to the success of Coalition
Forces. Arguably the most important mission performed by the
15th Sustainment Brigade was the transportation and distribution
mission supporting the BCTs at all of the forward operating
bases (FOBs) in its area of responsibility. The transportation
officers, noncommissioned officers, and Soldiers in the brigade
were referred to in the brigade as the “logistics center
of gravity” for MND–B. Joint Publication 5–0,
Joint Operation Planning, defines the friendly center of gravity
as “. . . the capabilities, characteristics, or sources
of power from which the force derives it strength, freedom
of action, and will to act.” These capabilities are
exactly what the truck drivers, cargo handlers, and transportation
planners provided daily at both the battalion and brigade
Each day, 15th Sustainment Brigade Soldiers conducted combat
logistics patrols (CLPs), delivering all classes of supply,
including mail, to all of the BCTs and nondivisional units
based on FOBs in the MND–B AO. These CLPs delivered
all of the commodities that allowed the BCTs to conduct operations.
Although mail is not critical for mission execution, it is
very important for the Soldiers’ morale. The 15th Sustainment
Brigade made mail a priority and scheduled daily mail delivery
to the units by either ground or air.
Even though the brigade’s mission was to provide direct
support to the MND–B AO, 15th Sustainment Brigade troops
supported various missions throughout Iraq. They traveled
as far south as Diwaniyah, as far north as Mosul, and as far
west as Al Asad to support unit moves and short-notice missions
that required unit equipment and cargo to be moved quickly
to respond to operational requirements. In less than 6 months,
the 15th Sustainment Brigade drove more than 2,147,213 miles
and had more than 3,672 Soldiers on the road conducting missions.
Soldiers discuss current operations during their
Central Receiving and Shipping Points
The 15th Sustainment Brigade operated two central receiving and shipping points
(CRSPs), one at Victory Base Complex (VBC) and the other at Camp Taji. The VBC
CRSP, which was much smaller in area than most, was one of the busiest CRSP yards
in theater. When the surge of units into theater brought two additional BCTs
to Camp Taji, the Taji CRSP also experienced a dramatic increase in the volume
of cargo that it processed. Between September 2006 and April 2007, the Taji and
VBC CRSP yards together retrograded over 5,000 pieces of cargo to Kuwait and
processed over 45,717 pieces of cargo that were delivered to and from the CRSP
The CRSP yards handled all classes of supply except class V (ammunition). Data
on all cargo that came into the yard were entered into a database and sent to
the brigade support operations transportation officer in charge. The officer
in charge created a consolidated report that he sent to the movement control
battalion, providing cargo visibility for all units within the Iraqi theater.
The data were also used when assigning internal CLPs and coordinating for external
transportation. The Soldiers who worked at the CRSP yards ensured that cargo
was placed in the appropriate lane for onward movement to the final destination.
computers are important to logistics
Soldiers in Iraq. Here, a Soldier uses a laptop
to complete reports at his desk.
The Soldiers who operated the CRSP yards were just as important as the troops
on the road since they spent countless hours processing cargo, delivering cargo
to local units, and ensuring that all materiel in the CRSP had radio frequency
identification tags with the proper data to provide in-transit visibility as
cargo moved into theater.
In February 2007, MND–B began emplacing joint security stations and combat
outposts throughout Baghdad. The joint security stations are intended to give
the Iraqi National Police a secure area from which to respond to situations.
The 15th Sustainment Brigade supported the joint security station and combat
outpost missions by transporting barriers to each joint security station and
combat outpost location. In just 4 months, the 15th Sustainment Brigade delivered
over 7,000 barriers of various sizes, creating secure bases of operation for
the BCTs and Iraqi National Police. This was a critical mission for the BCTs
and MND–B, and the 15th Sustainment Brigade was a key part of mission
success. Working hand-in-hand with both the combat units and combat engineers,
Brigade Soldiers made Baghdad safer for everyone.
The 15th Sustainment Brigade supported the action by providing world-class
transportation support to MND–B units and other units throughout Iraq.
This support provided by the 15th Sustainment Brigade ensured that no operational
missions failed because
of logistics constraints.
Major Aaron Hardy, Jr., was the Transportation Integration Division officer
in charge for the 15th Sustainment Brigade at Camp Taji, Iraq. He has a bachelor’s
degree in justice studies from Georgia Southern University and a master’s
degree in administration from Central Michigan University. He is a graduate
of the Armor Officer Basic Course, the Combined Logistics Officers Advanced
Course, the Combined Arms and Services Staff School, the Army Command and
General Staff College, and the Support Operations Course.