Brigade Support Battalion: Support team tackles uncommon missions
December 10, 2010
BAMBERG, Germany — During their latest deployment, portions of four Brigade Support Battalion companies were called upon to conduct security operations, much like their infantry counterparts, as part of the ongoing counterinsurgency mission in Afghanistan.
These trust-building missions were meant not only to improve relations between the Afghans and coalition forces, but also between the Afghans and their own security forces, according to the units’ commanders.
With about 475 paratroops representing more than 40 Army jobs, BSB soldiers supported a variety of missions.
Battalion commander Lt. Col. Curtis Johnson’s troops took on the new challenges without missing a beat.
“They never once said: This isn’t a maintenance mission or a distribution mission,” he said. “They were always looking for ways to solve problems, and it was that willingness to do so that I think allowed us to have great success,” Johnson said.
With the battalion’s headquarters company left to maintain and defend the base, its distribution company members found their roles expanded. They were sent to cover the battalion’s 140-square-mile battle space in central Logar province and push back an enemy that was targeting Forward Operating Base Shank with indirect-fire attacks.
“It was certainly not something that we walked into the deployment thinking we were going to do,” said Capt. Kate Fullenkamp, company commander. “We certainly knew that we were going to do convoys, that we were going to be out there doing some of that infantry role … but not in the sense of going after [the enemy] and going looking for them like we did.”
The distribution company conducted more than 300 security patrols with its Afghan counterparts, and its members were used as a quick-reaction force if a sister unit in the area needed help during an engagement.
Despite the extra duties, the company, with the help of the battalion’s maintenance company, distributed more than 1 million pounds of mail, 22,000 mortar rounds, 10,000 artillery rounds and more than 1 million gallons of water.
The BSB’s medical company saw more than 8,000 patients during the deployment, said Capt. Gennaro Layo, Company C’s commander.
“It was probably one of the busiest medical facilities in Afghanistan,” Layo said. “We saw on average 920 patients per month.”
The battalion also had to overcome the deaths of four of its paratroops following a roadside bomb attack on their vehicle in Logar province. Sgt. Vinson B. Adkinson, Spc. Raymond C. Alcaraz Jr., Pfc. Matthew E. George and Pfc. James A. Page were killed in the August attack.
“I think if they were to be here today and we asked them: ‘Would you still want this mission?’ they would say ‘absolutely,’ ” said Johnson, of the fallen soldiers. “Those guys loved that mission, and I don’t think they would have given it up for anything.
“It was a mission that we were all extremely proud of,” he said. “It wasn’t one that anyone said, ‘Oh, it is more dangerous, this is meant for infantry men, we can’t do it, why are we doing this?’ That never once came out of anybody’s mouth.”