Supplying Afghanistan

Article excerpt


At Jalalabad Airfield, Forward Operating Base Fenty, it never stops. Planes come in and drop troops and cargo. Planes go out, delivering troops and cargo.

For the Army Reserve Soldiers assigned to the 339th Movement Control Team, 103rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command, attached to the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Task Force Bastogne, this is their life. They're the ones who make sure troops and cargo get to their destinations.

Planes of all sorts, from huge C-130s to small Cessnas, land day and night on Nangarhar Province's Jalalabad Airfield. If the cargo or troops are delayed, it could be detrimental to troops out on the front lines fighting in one of Afghanistan's most dangerous areas, explained Reffitt, a native of Manhattan, Kan.

"Now I got this and it goes forward, but who is it going to?" said Reffitt about cargo lined up in the loading yard. "And it just sits there and you have to figure it out. You just keep putting the pieces of the puzzle together, and eventually somebody gets that package. So you got to just keep working on it, and eventually you'll get a point of contact."

One of their main customers is me 426th Brigade Support Battalion also attached to 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Task Force Bastogne.

"There are parts coming in all the time; it never stops," explained Pvt. Kathryn M. Carell, an automated logistical supply specialist assigned to Company A, 426th BSB. "That's why we're open 24/7. It's always busy over there, there's always stuff to pick up and always stuff to process."

Almost every day, a member from her company comes into the yard to keep supplies moving in and out.

"If a truck breaks down or a weapon malfunctions, we need to get repair equipment," said Carell, who is from Acton, Mass. "Anything from uniforms they may need or vehicle parts, we have customers on and off the forward operating bases. These parts are what the infantry needs or any other unit needs and they order."

As Task Force Bastogne is preparing to leave after a yearlong deployment, a new unit, a part of the 25th Infantry Division, is starting to filter in. With a new unit comes more planes and more equipment that needs to get sorted, said Carell.

"Some of 25th ID already has cargo here. We're just trying to keep things moving," said Reffitt. "This is what I chase all day -who owns what and who does it go to."

As another plane roars into the yard, workers scramble to push the equipment out of the belly of a C-130 and then load new equipment.

Riots yell out what they have and hand over manifest sheets, as hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment rolls by.

The most important part is making sure that it's the right equipment, said Pfc. Ardell D. Harris, from St. Louis, a transportation management coordinator assigned to the 339th MCT.

'There are some really valuable things. We get million-dollar cameras in and robots that the explosive ordinance disposal guys use," added Harris. …