Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Support Runs Both Ways at Hammer for the 1st SB

(Left to right) Command Sgt. Maj. Frank Cardoza, the command sergeant major for the 1st Sustainment Brigade; Lt. Col. Kelly Lawler, the commander of the 203rd Brigade Support Battalion; and Col. Kevin O’Connell, commander of the 1st Sustainment Brigade, talk about the improved reception center built at Forward Operating Base Hammer. “We built a reception complex for the Soldiers to have a bunk, and a place where there was air-conditioning, toilets, etc,” said Lawler.

By Staff Sgt. Bryant Maude
1st Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs Office

FORWARD OPERATING BASE HAMMER, Iraq – On a recent visit to Forward Operating Base Hammer, a dusty outpost east of Baghdad, Col. Kevin O’Connell, the commander of the 1st Sustainment Brigade, visited one of his customers, the 203rd Brigade Support Battalion, and two of his units the 461st Postal Company and Detachment A, 106th Finance Management Company.

A year ago, FOB Hammer was nothing more than a giant piece of dirt designated as the latest forward operating base being built to support the surge. The 203rd BSB was instrumental in this project and the 168th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st SB, was a lifeline for supplies coming in and out of the area.

“Although the 203rd doesn’t fall into Multi-National Division-Baghdad, we were asked to support them and that is what we are doing,” stated O’Connell.

The “203rd BSB Reception Area” is one of many projects over the year that has impacted the 1st SB and the Soldiers most likely to use the facility are the transporters of the 168th BSB. The 168th BSB transports all classes of supply into FOB Hammer from Victory Base Complex several times a week. Occasionally this leaves them in need of a meal, restrooms and a place to sleep.

“When we first got here with trucks to build Hammer, there was no place for the Soldiers to go and get out of the elements and at the time it was hot,” said Lt. Col. Kelly Lawler, commander of the 203rd BSB. “So we built a reception complex for the Soldiers to have a bunk, and a place where there was air-conditioning, toilets, etc…It was our desire that Soldiers from the 1st SB having to stay here with us will have a good facility.”

One critical type of supply transported to FOB Hammer by the 168th BSB is class VIII medical supplies. Company C, 203rd BSB, receives, sorts, and distributes the medical supplies to all units operating out of FOB Hammer. Staff Sgt. Laurie Miorano, medical supply specialist with Company C, has noticed a considerable change in turn around time for receiving products since the 1st SB took over.

“Things are improving. What was taking three to four weeks now takes about two,” said Miorano.

There was also an opportunity to visit finance and the post office – both functions are part of the Special Troops Battalion, 1st SB responsibilities at FOB Hammer. At the time of the visit the finance company was in the process of getting new cement poured around the building, which will help cut down on dust and mud for Soldiers entering the facility.

“It helps that Lt. Col. Lawler is the Mayor here at (FOB) Hammer,” said O’Connell. “He can help us get needed upgrades.”

The Soldiers stationed at FOB Hammer seem to appreciate the finance and postal units.

Pfc. Luis Pedraza needed help with a package and Army Reservist and Gadsden, Ala., native Staff Sgt. Christopher Wallace, a postal clerk with the 461st Postal Company, processed his request fast.

“I’m here to mail a package for my friend to his wife,” said Pedraza. “The service here is excellent!”

The relationship between the 1st SB and the 203rd BSB is strong and as FOB Hammer continues to improve so will the support transient Soldiers receive.

“You’ve come a long way since we’ve been here and we appreciate the opportunity to work with you,” stated O’Connell.

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