By Spc. Ekta Shrestha

553rd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion public affairs

CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait- On Jan. 15, the 553rd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion arrived in Kuwait City Airfield from Fort Hood.

After a 14-hour flight, the unit was given two days to settle in and adjust to the new environment.

On the third day, the Leopard Battalion was back to work. Soldiers were ready to start the transition with the 469th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, a Reserve unit based out of California, and take over the existing operation.

The 553rd's mission over the next year is to manage contractors and ensure that the serviceable items are recaptured into the supply system and the unserviceable items are properly disposed of, therefore saving the government and the taxpayers money.

The 553rd trainined with their counterpart, the 469th. Soldiers learned their new roles and assumed new responsibilities.

Over the last year, the 469th has seen success.

The "469th has saved the government and the taxpayers just shy of $1 billion in recapturing the serviceable items back into the supply system," said Sgt. 1st Class Eric B. Johnson, a senior noncommissioned officer attached to the 553rd support battalion.

He is taking over as that battalion's noncommissioned officer in charge of the Theater Redistribution Center, where it is responsible for separating serviceable and unserviceable items. He has worked with the 469th support battalion since November and is continuing the mission with the 553rd support battalion.

"The transition so far has gone relatively smoothly," Johnson said. "(The) 553rd is picking up really well because they trained prior to coming here by taking classes and understanding the core of the mission."

Sgt. 1st Class Giovanni Ciccia, the 553rd support battalion's noncomissioned officer in charge of general support, must ensure that all the serviceable items re-enter the supply system. Capt. Vincent Bain, 553rd chaplain, has also been busy preparing for the year ahead. He has been working with Capt. James A. Duck, acting chaplain for the 469th support battalion.

"We've gone over the battalion and brigade procedures in regards to the Chaplain Corps and how that affects the mission of the soldiers in the 553rd," Bain said.

Since his arrival in theater, Bain has been familiarizing himself with not only the soldiers in Camp Arifjan but also with soldiers who have been detached to other locations throughout Kuwait.

His main goal during the transition period has been to welcome the attached soldiers to the Leopard Battalion. "I've had an opportunity to speak with them about the situation they find themselves in and what we can do to help them in the future as we moved into this deployment," he said.

Taking into consideration the departing battalion's great success and example, the 553rd support battalion was ready to take on the challenge. Soldiers are confident that they will produce results as successful as their predecessors' and are motivated to do better.

The uncasing was conducted Feb. 1 and officially marked the 553rd support battalion's assumption of command over the new mission supporting Operation New Dawn.

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