Transformation brought a new, increased logistics
capability to Army force structure: the sustainment brigade.
Through the modular transformation, the sustainment brigade
replaced division support commands (DISCOMs) and corps support
groups (CSGs) to provide greater capabilities for logistics
command and control on today’s battlefield. This increased
capability, however, required additional support to the sustainment
brigade headquarters, whose administrative responsibilities
go above and beyond those of the traditional headquarters
and headquarters companies (HHCs) that were found in DISCOMs
and CSGs. As a result, the Army created a brigade troops battalion
(BTB) to perform administrative and support functions for
each sustainment brigade.
The 15th BTB provides essential support to the 15th Sustainment
Brigade headquarters in garrison and while deployed. As the
only organic unit assigned to the brigade, the 15th BTB oversees
the brigade headquarters’ administrative, medical, signal,
maintenance, and life support needs so that the headquarters
can focus on logistics support provided by the attached combat
sustainment support battalions (CSSBs).
The 15th BTB was activated on 5 July 2005 at Fort Hood, Texas.
Soldiers previously assigned to the 27th Main Support Battalion
and the 1st DISCOM of the 1st Cavalry Division formed the
foundation of the unit.
sergeant from the 410th Quartermaster Company inspects
his Soldiers as they prepare to man guard towers
that provide base defense at Camp Taji, Iraq. (Photo
by 1LT Michael Sharp)
The Battalion in Operation Iraqi Freedom
In August 2006, the 15th BTB deployed to
Multi-National Division-Baghdad (MND–B) to provide support to the 15th
Sustainment Brigade for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Doctrinally, a BTB is composed
of an HHC, which provides administrative, medical, and maintenance support, and
a signal company tasked to provide communications and information systems support
to the brigade headquarters. Shortly after activation, however, the 15th BTB
realized the need to split the HHC into two companies. With over 350 Soldiers
and multiple functions, the HHC span of responsibility exceeded the capabilities
of just one company commander. As a result, the 15th BTB is composed of three
companies: an HHC, a medical and maintenance company (Alpha Company), and a signal
company (Bravo Company).
While deployed, the 15th BTB’s HHC provided administrative and life support
for over 230 Soldiers assigned to the 15th Sustainment Brigade headquarters element.
The HHC managed all life support for Soldiers living in more than 10 separate
locations and supervised the operation of the dining facility, which supported
over 10,000 Soldiers a day. The HHC carried out a training management program
to ensure that Soldiers maintained proficiency in warrior skills, military occupational
specialty skills, cultural awareness, and sensitivity training.
Alpha Company at Work
Alpha Company provided maintenance and medical support to the brigade and the
15th BTB. With over 100 Soldiers, it was a multifunctional support
company that included an organizational maintenance platoon, a component repair
platoon, and a medical platoon.
The maintenance platoon operated a consolidated motorpool and was responsible
for the organizational maintenance of over 100 pieces of rolling stock within
the 15th BTB and its attached subordinate units. Alpha Company provided direct
support maintenance to supported and attached units that lacked maintenance capability.
These units included the 786th Quartermaster Battalion, several military transition
teams supporting Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) at Camp Taji, and a movement control
team from the 49th Movement Control Battalion. The company also operated the
only functional sustainment-level
component repair platoon within the theater.
The component repair platoon consisted of a fuel and equipment repair section
and an intermediate family of test equipment section. These sections provided
needed support to the numerous supply support activities at Camp Taji with starter
and generator repair and circuit card diagnosis for M109 Paladin howitzers.
The company’s medical platoon contributed to the health and welfare of
Soldiers assigned to the 15th Sustainment Brigade and to all of Camp Taji and
MND–B. Doctrinally, the platoon consists of treatment and evacuation squads
that operate a battalion aid station that can support 400 personnel. While deployed,
however, the medical platoon’s role greatly expanded to operate a troop
medical clinic, supporting over 2,500 personnel at Camp Taji with only one physician
and one physician’s assistant. Alpha Company performed this role due to
the lack of an area medical support company at Camp Taji.
Alpha Company also contained personnel to staff and operate both a mental health
clinic and an optometry clinic. The mental health team provided support to over
18,000 Soldiers at Camp Taji. Meanwhile, the optometry clinic provided area support
to MND–B by providing preventive, routine, and acute optical care to over
35,000 Soldiers. As one of only three full-service optometry clinics in Iraq,
the clinic had the capability to make prescription eyeglasses in its fabrication
Bravo Company at Work
Bravo Company provided signal support to the 15th Sustainment Brigade headquarters
and subordinate units. With only 60 Soldiers, the company provided secure and
non-secure communications for the brigade and powered the numerous automated
combat service support systems that are vital to sustaining the warfighter.
Bravo Company’s capabilities included a range extension platoon consisting
of two command post node teams and a retransmission team. These teams attached
to subordinate units of the 15th Sustainment Brigade that were geographically
dispersed over large distances and gave them the ability to communicate with
the brigade headquarters. Bravo Company supported the 393d and 68th CSSBs, which
were located over 25 miles from Camp Taji. The network extension platoon also
operated several systems, including the Joint Network Node (JNN), Ku-band satellite
mobile unit, line of sight (LOS) radio, and Enhanced Position Locating and Reporting
System (EPLRS). These systems provided full voice, video, and data services and
satellite transmission to the brigade to enable communication with subordinate
and higher headquarters. These systems were employed at Camp Taji, adjacent to
the 15th Sustainment Brigade command information center.
from Bravo Company, 15th Brigade Troops Battalion,
monitors the network
from the Joint Network Node (JNN) shelter. The JNN
provided a critical communication link among the
15th Sustainment Brigade headquarters, the 13th
Command (Expeditionary), and
(Photo by CPT Travis Brown)
Bravo Company also included a signal maintenance
section, a communications and electronics team, and a network
operations (NETOPs) section. Both the signal maintenance section
and the communications and electronics team worked closely
with the organizational maintenance platoon in Alpha Company
and provided maintenance support to the brigade’s communications
systems, such as JNN and LOS. The NETOPs section worked closely
with the brigade S–6 to monitor the brigade’s
network, ensure compliance, and troubleshoot problems when
Securing the Camp
In addition to providing support to the brigade headquarters,
the 15th BTB performed two additional missions during the deployment
to Iraq: base defense at Camp Taji and ISF assistance. After
deploying to Camp Taji, the 15th BTB was tasked to assume command
and control of the largest portion of the base defense of Camp
Taji. Executing this mission required over 220 Soldiers daily
and covered the most dangerous section of Camp Taji’s
perimeter, which included 18 guard towers and 2 entry control
points bordering Main Supply Route Tampa. To accomplish this
mission, the 15th BTB was assigned two additional companies:
the 410th Quartermaster Company (Kentucky Army National Guard)
and the 1157th Transportation Company (Wisconsin Army National
Guard). These two companies increased the total strength of
the 15th BTB to over 700 Soldiers.
While conducting base defense, the 15th BTB’s area defense
operations center and base defense assets fell under the tactical
control of the base defense operations center (BDOC) run by
the 1st Battalion, 82d Field Artillery Regiment, and Camp Taji’s
senior tactical commander. This required the 15th BTB to execute
the tactical orders of the BDOC while on the battlefield; however,
all other command and control and support functions were the
responsibility of the 15th BTB. To facilitate this command
relationship, the 15th BTB worked closely with the BDOC to
ensure seamless command and control and unity of effort. Over
35 15th BTB Soldiers were awarded Combat Action Badges for
engaging with enemy forces while conducting base defense operations.
In order to enable ISF to take the lead in securing Iraq, the
15th BTB created an ISF cell that partnered with the military
integration and transition teams assigned to the Taji Regional
Support Unit, the Taji National Depot (TND), and the 6th Motorized
Transport Regiment. The 15th BTB ISF cell provided coaching,
teaching, and mentoring for the TND and assisted Multi-National
Security Transition Command-Iraq in enhancing the Iraqis’ logistics
operations. This effort included processing more than 600 containers
of class IX repair parts that were received as part of the
Coalition Forces’ military support package and from foreign
military sales to the Iraqi government. The 15th BTB ISF cell
was assigned the mission of standing up a warehouse for the
receipt, storage, and issue of U.S. military equipment repair
parts for the Iraq National Class IX Warehouse. The 15th BTB
ISF cell also worked as a liaison between the 15th Sustainment
Brigade staff and the TND to ensure the warehouse had the resources
required to rapidly develop the unit’s capabilities.
This included equipment and technical support to the military
integration and transition teams assigned to support the TND.
The 15th BTB placed great importance on supporting the training
and equipping of ISF logistics units to be self-sufficient.
While deployed to Iraq, the 15th BTB provided exceptional support to the brigade
headquarters and conducted the additional operations of base defense and ISF
support. It was a time of many firsts for the unit as it contributed to defining
the new roles and responsibilities of a BTB. Most importantly, however, the 15th
BTB provided world-class support to the 15th Sustainment Brigade and allowed
it to complete its wartime mission.
First Lieutenant Stephen J. Young was assigned as the Force Protection Officer
of the 15th Brigade Troops Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade, at Camp Taji,
Iraq. He has a bachelor’s degree in English from St. John’s University
in Minnesota. He is a graduate of the Transportation Officer Basic Course.