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The 15th Sustainment Brigade in Iraq

This article and the ones that follow on pages 13 to 45 profile the service and the achievements of the 15th Sustainment Brigade during its Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) 06–08 tour. They offer an overview of what we did, what we contributed, and what we learned. The men and women of our unit came from units in many locations across our Nation—Alaska, Kansas, Nebraska, Texas, many other states, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands—and Germany. These articles tell our stories, which reflect great credit on our Soldiers and leaders and their Families.

Unit History

On 6 July 2005, the Division Support Command (DISCOM) of the 1st Cavalry Division was inactivated and redesignated as the 15th Sustainment Brigade.  The DISCOM’s subordinate forward support battalions were redesignated as brigade support battalions (BSBs) and task-organized under their supported maneuver brigades.

The 15th Sustainment Brigade is the descendent of the historical 15th Support Brigade, which was originally constituted on 4 May 1966 in the Regular Army as a headquarters and headquarters company and was first activated on 1 July 1966.  The 15th Support Brigade later inactivated at Fort Lewis, Washington, on 21 March 1973 after receiving campaign credits for its support for Counteroffensive Operations (Phases II and III) in Vietnam.

The 1st Cavalry Division DISCOM participated in all major campaigns of the Vietnam War and distinguished itself in battle. It received the Presidential Unit Citation for action in Pleiku Province and the Valorous Unit Award for action in the “Fish Hook” area of Cambodia. The DISCOM also received three Meritorious Unit Commendations and four Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry awards.

In January and February 1991, the DISCOM provided support throughout Operation Desert Storm, leading to a quick liberation of Kuwait. The command was awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation for OIF II for its service from 8 March 2004 to 8 March 2005.

Deployment to OIF 06–08

As a new separate brigade—no longer an organic unit of the 1st Cavalry Division—and task-organized under the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) [13th SC (E)], the 15th Sustainment Brigade deployed to Iraq in July 2006. It deployed in advance of both the 1st Cavalry Division and 13th SC (E) headquarters units and transitioned with the 4th Sustainment Brigade and the 4th Infantry Division in Multi-National Division-Baghdad (MND–B).

The 15th Sustainment Brigade assumed command and control of three combat sustainment support battalions, a brigade troops battalion, a personnel services battalion, and the Camp Taji Mayor’s Cell—units that together numbered over 4,000 Soldiers. Our mission was to synchronize and provide sustainment in direct support (DS) to MND–B and by area support to MND–Central (MND–C). Our sustainment would allow combat forces to conduct full-spectrum operations to secure Baghdad, its population, and its surrounding area in order to reduce sectarian violence and facilitate the continued transition of Baghdad to Iraqi security control. In this endeavor, we provided support to 13 brigade combat teams (BCTs) and numerous echelons-above-brigade corps units totaling over 100,000 Soldiers.

Throughout the entire tour, the brigade was fully involved in developing the concept of support and executing logistics for every major combat operation in MND–B and MND–C. Significant operations included Operation Together Forward, in which we played a critical role during the phase II barrier moves that established blocking positions throughout Baghdad; Operations Constant Solidarity and Watchful Purpose, in which MND–B provided forces to disrupt anti-Iraqi forces (AIF) and Al Qaeda in Iraq cells in MND–C; and, most importantly, the current Baghdad Security Plan and Surge Operation, which is allowing for the continued transition to Iraqi security self-reliance
and governance.

Distribution was the key to our success. Over the course of the deployment, we conducted over 6,545 combat logistics patrols (CLPs), which involved 111,916 vehicles and 186,667 Soldiers driving over 4 million miles. We experienced over 40 incidents involving detonated and found improvised explosive devices (IEDs), more than 50 attacks by small-arms fire, and 25 direct-fire actions.

We accomplished our mission by resourcing and training subordinate battalions and companies. Our efforts ensured that these units were properly equipped and prepared and, therefore, confident in their ability to effectively execute all assigned missions. We implemented and executed a brigade standard for planning, rehearsing, conducting precombat checks and inspections, and executing CLPs. Knowing that intelligence drives operations and recognizing that we arguably were traversing the most dangerous main supply routes (MSRs) in Iraq, we implemented systems to develop and track AIF attack trends.

We aggressively instituted countermeasures against AIF attacks. These countermeasures included ensuring that we did not follow set patterns of movement, shifting start-point times and planning remain-overnight actions, traveling different routes, improving stockage capability on forward operating bases (FOBs), organizing training and conferences for CLP commanders, providing training on CREW (counter radio-controlled IED electronic warfare) systems, conducting training for escalation-of-force actions, and implementing standardized load plans and battle drills.

Supply Operations

The 15th Sustainment Brigade’s general supply office received over 90 million gallons of bulk fuel, delivered over 178 million gallons of bulk fuel, issued 250,810 meal cases, produced over 10.5 million cases of bottled water, issued 3.5 million cases of bottled water, and filled over 2 million class IX (repair parts) requisitions, of which 13,030 pallets were moved by air. We increased the fuel capacity of fuel farms at the Victory Base Complex and Camp Taji from 4.7 million gallons of storage capacity to 7.4 million gallons—an increase of 2.7 million gallons. We also provided Iraqi Security Forces over 1.2 million gallons in bulk fuel support.

We established, improved, and supervised 10 authorized stockage lists (ASLs), with a total of 39,672 lines valued at $278 million, within the MND–B area of responsibility (AOR).  We ensured that each of the 10 ASLs was properly designed to support its customers.  This allowed us to achieve a zero balance and a due-out rate of less than 8 percent for each of the 10 ASLs. We retrograded over 100,000 lines valued in excess of $620 million. We established routines and procedures to ensure the timely turn-in of overaged reparable items, resulting in the brigade leading all supply support activities in meeting standards in Iraq. We established a referral process that ensured that we had visibility of all ASLs within MND–B, thus reducing customer wait time. We implemented the mandatory use of portable data collection devices in order to ensure same-day processing of receipts and issues to over 10,876 Department of Defense activity address codes.

Maintenance Operations

The maintenance management office (MMO) oversaw and coordinated the installation of over 10,163 vehicle up-armored enhancements. This effort began with the M1114 high-mobility, multipurpose, wheeled vehicle legacy kits, but over time it progressed to include kits for the light medium tactical vehicle, M113 armored personnel carrier, fuelers, and even the M1 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle under-armor program. A great deal of effort went into planning and coordinating the up-armored effort for the 82d Airborne Division’s division ready brigade as part of the Baghdad surge. The MMO coordinated for the installation of 384 M1151 Objective Frag 5 Kits within a 22-day period, which was a feat unmatched within the Iraqi theater of operations.

The MMO’s maintenance managers regularly coordinated with 13 brigades, and at times more, within the MND–B AOR. The managers worked with BCT S–4s, BSB maintenance officers, shop officers, and personnel at every level up to the wholesale to support the Soldiers in the field. They researched and assisted the maneuver units in obtaining the hard-to-locate and backordered parts needed to bring their equipment to a fully mission capable status.

Transportation Operations

The transportation integration division (TID) refined the execution of the consolidated receiving and shipping points (CRSPs), thus creating a single point for receiving and issuing classes II (clothing and individual equipment), VII (major end items), and IX within MND–B.  The operation of the CRSPs reduced the number of theater resupply convoys on MND–B MSRs, reduced time of materiel on station, increased the retrograde of excess class VII and IX items to Kuwait, and facilitated the delivery and retrograde of class VII and IX items to BCTs.  The result was a single point in MND–B for receipt and delivery of over 25,000 military-owned demountable containers (MILVANS) and pallets and the retrograde of over 7,157 MILVANs, thereby drastically decreasing transit time for theater distribution assets.

In conjunction with the 1st Cavalry Division Combat Aviation Brigade, the TID provided aerial logistics in support of all units in the MND–B area of operations. Moving over 13,030 pallets by air to the FOBs in support of MND–B units and Multi-National Corps-Iraq separate units reduced the number of ground vehicles in use by 4,166 and the number of CLPs by 250. The TID also coordinated with the 13th SC (E) to improve the coordination of fixed-wing flights from Balad to Baghdad International Airport and retrograde flights from Baghdad (for over 7,830 pallets) to Kuwait and Balad. The TID was instrumental in the initial planning to receive fixed-wing aircraft at FOB Taji. This further reduced both requirements for and the risks associated with CLPs moving on MND–B roads.

In November 2006, the TID extended the contract of the Iraqi Truck Company (ITC) and the escort mission. The TID continued the integration of ITC drivers into CLPs in order to transport critical cargo. The ITC became an integral part of the brigade’s mission. In all, the brigade provided escort protection to over 3,076 ITC vehicles on 338 missions.

Contingency Contracting

The brigade’s contingency contracting officers worked as a team to process over 303 contract actions for Iraqi reconstruction and for critical non-construction
materials and services with a value of over $43 million. These contracts were critical to maintaining the force protection of U.S. Army and coalition personnel in our area of operations and to providing ongoing services needed to maintain a high state of readiness. Some of the major contracts covered billeting renovation, Frag 5 kits, leasing of nontactical vehicles, escalation-of-force operations at Taji and Victory Base Complex, construction of a DS maintenance facility, ITC services, improvements to the CRSP yard and the water plant site, bus leasing, and general labor.

The combined efforts of the contingency contracting officers allowed the U.S. Government to seek over $2.5 million in savings on executed contracts for the brigade. The contracting function was a major segment of the 15th Sustainment Brigade’s acquisition process and was critical to mission success.

Logistics Automation

The combat service support automation management office (CSSAMO) provided direct support for four organic battalions as well as general support and assistance to the entire MND–B AOR. The CSSAMO completed over 600 work orders involving various levels of hardware, software, and operator training support. It also conducted multiple assistance visits to each FOB within the MND–B AOR, personally interfacing with and providing tailored support for each brigade CSSAMO. The CSSAMO also provided hardware and supplies to several other CSSAMOs throughout our AOR in the form of desktop computers, power supplies, and other automation components. The CSSAMO was instrumental in developing alternate methods of communicating Standard Army Management Information Systems data, thereby streamlining the data transfer process from forward patrol bases.

Ammunition Operations

The ammunition management office (AMMO) provided seamless support to MND–B by filling ammunition basic load (ABL) shortages and mission support requirements. In doing so, the unit processed over 200 requisitions, which equated to the movement of over 6 million rounds of munitions. The AMMO also facilitated the division’s retrograde plan by turning in over 4 million rounds of excess ammunition, which directly contributed to the ability of all ammunition transfer handling points (ATHPs) to reduce their net explosive weights by 45 percent.

The AMMO was directly involved in planning and executing the Camp Liberty ATHP and ammunition supply point (ASP) expansion project. The MND–B ASP at Camp Liberty now provides immediate ammunition capability to units operating in and around Baghdad. Thanks to intensive management by the AMMO, all BCTs were able to maintain a fill rate of 90 percent for the ABL high-usage Department of Defense Identification Code items.

Other Support

In exercising our expeditionary capability, the 15th Sustainment Brigade deployed shower, laundry, and clothing repair teams, maintenance support teams, and forward logistics elements to forward locations on the battlefield to better support the customer.

In our efforts to partner with Iraqi logistics units, we supported Iraqi Security Forces by partnering with the 6th Motorized Truck Regiment and the Iraqi Army Regional Support Unit.  Our support contributed to the successful execution of over 40 independent missions.  We provided training and oversight of the Taji National Depot, which led to increased effectiveness and efficiency by the depot in equipping 10 Iraqi Army divisions.  We implemented training programs for Iraqi Soldiers on how to receive, store, and issue classes II, IIIP (packaged petroleum, oils, and lubricants), V (ammunition), and IX.

The 15th Sustainment Brigade set the standard for multifunctional logistics support during its 15 months of service in Iraq. Its commitment to excellence and unmatched customer service contributed immensely to the success of the 13th SC (E) and the 1st Cavalry Division. Throughout all of the countless efforts to make our mission a success, our Soldiers, noncommissioned officers, and officers maintained the professionalism of true logisticians, demonstrated the Warrior Ethos, and exemplified what it means to be Total Soldiers. Support the Action!

Colonel Aundre F. Piggee is the Commander of the 15th Sustainment Brigade. He is a graduate of the Quartermaster Officer Basic Course, Ordnance Officer Advanced Course, Combined Arms and Services Staff School, Army Command and General Staff College, Army War College, and Logistics Executive Development Course. He holds a B.S. degree in biology from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, an M.S. degree in material acquisition management from the Florida Institute of Technology, and a master’s degree in military strategy from the Army War College.