By Sgt. 1st Class Damian Steptore
4th Infantry Division public affairs
FORT IRWIN, Calif. — The 4th Infantry Division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team isn’t the only unit at the National Training Center training for real-world missions.
The 553rd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 4th Sustainment Brigade, also based out of Fort Hood, is providing food, water, ammo and fuel to the brigade during the month-long training rotation in the Mojave Desert.
Their mission is nothing new for the soldiers of the sustainment battalion, especially for those such as Spc. Kevin Mauga, a fuel handler, who said he is very familiar with refueling and petroleum operations.
“At first I was scared, but after a month or so, I realized I was really doing it. I was important to the mission,” Mauga said, about his deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2006. He was in the Army for less than a year when he deployed to Baghdad and pumped thousands of gallons of fuel. “So because I did this mission in Iraq, I realize how much the (brigade) needs our help out here.”
The sustainment battalion has supplied approximately 253,000 gallons of fuel and 36,000 gallons of water, along with food, water and ammunition, to the brigade during the training rotation.
While the brigade uses the extra support elements to operate more efficiently, the sustainment battalion’s commander said the training helps his unit too.
“I volunteered my battalion to support the (brigade),” said Lt. Col. Gregory Koller, the battalion’s commander. “We wanted to capitalize on the great training opportunity we could not receive at Fort Hood. Doing the job and supporting the brigade allows us to focus on the collective training that we usually don’t get a chance to do at home station.”
The soldiers accomplish the same support functions they would perform on a real battlefield.
“We are here to provide the right supplies, at the right time, at the right location for the 4th BCT,” said battalion Command Sgt. Maj. Murray Orlando, who has more than 26 years of logistical experience. “It takes highly trained and motivated soldiers — and we definitely have that in this unit.”
Murray says his battalion’s soldiers enjoy what they do and are prepared to take the lessons learned at Fort Irwin to continue preparing for possible deployments.