The 3rd Sustainment Brigade “Providers” will soon provide behind-the-scenes support for the 3rd ID’s advise and assist mission in Iraq, and will be cleaning up seven year’s worth of military equipment and supplies as U.S. troops draw down.
The brigade is currently holding its Unified Endeavor training exercise at Fort Stewart’s Evans Army Airfield before deploying to Iraq in April. The exercise combines real world scenarios with a computer-simulation program.
“With Unified Endeavor, we can make mistakes and we can refine what we’re doing,” said brigade commander Col. Shawn Morrissey.
Morrissey said Unified Endeavor would hone the brigade’s command and control skills, provide for a “planned and synchronized” sustainment across a range of operations and would maintain a common operating vision “in a contained, controlled environment.”
The exercise began Monday and will end Feb. 5, he said. Morrissey said the exercise took six months to plan and 10 days to set up.
“This is our footprint,” said Command Sgt. Major Stanley Richards of the 13th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion at Fort Benning, gesturing to a long row of temporary structures set up for Unified Endeavor.
Richards is one of 70 soldiers from Fort Benning’s 13th CSSB who are training with the 3rd Sustainment Brigade at Fort Stewart.
Other brigade battalions involved in Unified Endeavor include the 3rd Special Troops Battalion and 87th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion at Fort Stewart and the 260th Quartermaster Battalion at Hunter Army Airfield. Other units participating in the exercise include the 43rd Sustainment Brigade at Fort Carlson, Colo., and the 62nd Medical Brigade at Fort Lewis, Wash.
Morrissey compared Unified Endeavor to the training 3rd ID combat brigades receive at Fort Irwin’s National Training Center.
“This is our culminating training event,” Morrissey said.
Once in Iraq, the “Providers” will be faced with the largest retrograde — draw down of war equipment and supplies — in history, he said.
“We have the challenge of sustainment operations nested with retrograde operations,” the colonel said.
Morrissey said the brigade may “find some things we didn’t know were there,” during the draw-down in Iraq, but added his troops have a “90 percent” knowledge of the supplies and equipment they will be maintaining, repairing and replacing in theater.
Morrissey expects to retrograde tens of thousands of “short tons” of supplies and equipment once deployed.
The brigade also will “coach, teach and mentor (the Iraqis) in sustainment operations,” Morrissey said.
The upcoming deployment will be the 3rd Sustainment Brigade’s fourth deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The brigade will operate out of Joint Base Balad in Iraq and will provide the 3rd ID such logistical services as postal service, finance, transportation and human resources in addition to providing and maintaining supplies and equipment from Baghdad to Turkey.
Morrissey said the 3rd Sustainment Brigade has troops in places other than Iraq.
The brigade currently has 153 soldiers from the 10th Transportation Company deployed to Haiti in support of Operation Unified Response, to assist in the devastated island country’s recovery efforts.
“It was a phenomenal task during this busy time,” Morrissey said.
The colonel said brigade troops also are deployed to Kuwait and Afghanistan.
“We’ve never had all of our soldier on one field at one time,” he said. The 3rd Sustainment Brigade has more than 3,700 troops.
“They all deploy and they all come back,” Morrissey said.